Women’s Leadership in International Affairs

Panel Code

This panel is seeking to cover topics relating to women’s leadership and representation across a wide spectrum of international activity. Within the congress theme ‘Borders and Margins’, panel discussion will include both empirical and conceptual borders around gender and international affairs, and the marginalisation of women as the 'face' of a state.

Successive international organisations and states have recognised the vital need for women’s leadership in global governance. The importance of gender equality and women’s leadership has been enshrined in international agreements, and reflected in national strategies for gender equality. Women’s leadership and representation in decision-making is linked to better development paths for states, lower levels of interstate violence, more durable and comprehensive decision-making, and higher levels of collaboration and consensus. Further, a diversity of women from developed and developing countries alike are critical to ensuring emerging issues of environmental degradation, climate change, and threats of terror are addressed, and solutions are found.
Yet, women continue to remain marginalised in international affairs, occupying a minority of leadership positions across diplomacy, trade and security across almost every country and region. In peace processes between 1992 and 2011, women made up only 2 per cent of chief mediators, 4 per cent of witnesses and signatories, and 9 per cent of negotiators worldwide. While the proportion of women heads of mission doubled from 2000 to 2014, women still only represent 14 per cent across the globe, and only 15 per cent of permanent representatives to the UN in New York. Despite representing half the population, women hold only 22 per cent of positions in national parliaments worldwide, and one third of global businesses have no women in senior management roles.
With calls that “women are the most relevant emerging power this century", what borders and margins continue to exist regarding women’s leadership internationally? How can these borders and margins be enlarged or erased to influence change? What more can we do to increase women’s representation in leadership? What are the next walls to fall?