Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Women Ambassadors Conference

Event Title: Women Ambassadors Conference
Sponsor: Women Ambassadors Foundation
Location: Howard University
Date: April 5th, 2007
Time 10:30 am-1:00 pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 80
Intern Attending: Evan Davies

Featured Speakers: Amb. Josefina Pitra Diakite, Amb. Eva Nowotny, Amb. Inonge Lewanika Mblkustlta, Amb. Zamira Sydykova

The Women Ambassadors Conference is an annual gathering where all of the female ambassadors in the DC area congregate to discuss current women’s issues as well as challenges they face in representing their country. The atmosphere was light and many of the ambassadors were very happy to be meeting with each other. Dr. Marilyn Sephocle, the President of the Women Ambassadors Foundation, gave a warm introduction and welcomed the first speaker, Amb. Zamira Sydykova of Kyrgystan

In her newly appointed position, Amb. Sydykova was delighted to have the opportunity to be in an elite and growing group of women in the DC area. She went on to explain how her country is very small, and she has been a major contributing factor in promoting international relations. The country is stricken with poverty and violence but the new government is trying very hard to establish stable ground to and become a stronger body at the international level.

Ambassador Claudia Fritsche of Liechtenstein followed with a discussion of Liechtenstein’s emerging international presence. The country just joined the UN in 1990 and has since then progressed by leaps and bounds. Although there have been issues of poverty in the past, the country is starting to overcome them. She spent the last portion of her speech offering Liechtenstein to the international negotiation process because it is a balanced, unbiased country that will dispense true judgment on international affairs, where other countries may have historically-founded biases.

H.E. Eva Nowotny, Austria’s ambassador to the U.S., was not able to attend at the last minute and sent her assistant Dr. Vernessa White-Jackson to speak on her behalf. She commented that Austria is proud of how many women are involved in politics in Austria and the Ambassador is just one of several women within the government. She also raised the idea that more women should get involved in government, and urged the female Howard students to embrace the roles available to them in politics.

The last, and best spoken, contribution was Ambassador Inonge Lewanika Mblkuslta from Zambia. She spoke not only for her country but the whole continent of Africa. She first explained how Africa as a whole has the highest percentage of women as ambassadors than any other continent. Women are getting very involved in politics on the local level as well, not only at the international level. This participation is beneficial for the entire continent in giving new life to aiding existing problems. She then spoke more candidly about international relations, specifically pointing out that the US needs to step up their relations with Africa. The US needs Africa from many angles; the major current issues is that Africa supplies 20% of the US oil as well as many other natural resources.

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