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Number of women ambassadors increasing in the UNECE region

Women’s empowerment has an important role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. One way to empower women is to improve their opportunities to take on leadership roles at all levels of decision-making in political and public life. Among the many ways to measure this is the share of women ambassadors. Women’s representation in power and decision-making has shown an upward trend in UNECE member countries over the past decades. The share of women ambassadors more than doubled over the past 15 years in 11 out of the 16 countries for which data are available.

While in 2000, only Latvia exceeded the 20 per cent mark for female representation in diplomacy abroad (11 out of 39 ambassadors), by 2015 half of the selected countries were above this level.  Notably, in the same year, in Sweden and Ireland more than one third of ambassadors representing their countries abroad were women: 39 per cent in Sweden (38 out of 96 ambassadors) and 35 per cent in Ireland (25 out of 71 ambassadors). In contrast, female representation was under ten per cent in Kazakhstan (1 out of 58 ambassadors), Armenia (3 out of 40 ambassadors) and Italy (17 out 215 ambassadors).

Overall, the number of representatives abroad has increased over the last 15 years. In 2015, the number of accredited diplomatic official representatives from the 16 UNECE countries with data was 13 per cent higher than in 2000. The total number of female representatives has risen almost threefold between 2000 and 2015 in the 16 UNECE countries.

Despite the upward trend in female representation in diplomacy over the past 15 years, the gender gap remains persistent.  While women in the top ranks of diplomacy represented 7.6 per cent of the total across the 16 UNECE countries in 2000, this figure was still only 18.7 per cent by 2015.

Notes: An ambassador is a diplomatic official accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization, to serve as the official representative of his or her own country. In everyday usage it applies to the top ranking government representative stationed in a foreign country.