What is feminist diplomacy? This new buzzword seems to be just another way of imposing quotas in the political world, without having a solid backbone or a truly charismatic leader to carry its values.
This is now a reality, thanks to the "diplomatic entrepreneurship" initiative of Guila Clara Kessous. This young woman chose to create a "feminine" version of the Abrahamic Accords, which she entitled "The Sarah and Hajar Accords." She knocked on the doors of the governments of Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, asking them to nominate a female politician to sign this historic declaration on April 27, 2023.
This diplomatic achievement is even more interesting as it was not initiated by any government, as the Abraham Accords were with the United States. If Guila Clara Kessous found the courage to take this step, it is because she is very familiar with issues of women's rights.
A PhD student of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and renowned Harvard University negotiator William Ury, Guila Clara Kessous first trained at the French National Theatre Academy, then chose to use theater as an art therapy to help women victims of violence.
She helps thousands of victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, notably alongside Dr. Mukwege in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2012, she was named UNESCO Artist for Peace in recognition of these commitments, and created "Femina Vox", a forum to promote women's rights as part of UNESCO's International Women's Rights Day.
It was at Harvard University, where she taught a course on "Theatre and Human Rights", that she met with Professor Tal Ben Shahar, a specialist in positive psychology. He strongly advised her to become a professional coach, using theatrical techniques to help a large number of managers, and in particular executive women for a more effective leadership. This is how she met numerous women especially in the diplomatic sphere, and the idea of The "Sarah and Hajar Accords" arised.
"I was struck by the number of women, at such a high level of governance, are still prey to imposter syndrome, because they feel deeply alone, many of them having been put in these positions thanks to undeniable qualities, but also for a question of image of governments or companies.... What is missing is a profound diplomatic alliance between these women, and that's what I chose to achieve."
It begins with this agreement, and was followed by Her Excellency Nancy Khedoury, member of the Shura Council, Vice-Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and National Security Committee and of the Barhain Human Rights Committee; Mrs Maria Belafia, elected representative of the Rabat region, Chairwoman of the Economic Committee of the Rabat region and Founding Member of the Moroccan Center for Legal Studies; Mrs Ruth Wasserman Lande, Co-Chair of the Knesset Caucus for the Promotion of the Abraham Accords, former member of the Knesset in Israel; and Her Excellency Afra Mahest Al Hameli, Director of the Strategic Communications Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates.
The aim of these agreements is to discuss issues relating to violence against women, girls' education and the empowerment of women in the region, as well as to encourage women to participate in politics and at the table of negotiation.
And this is just the beginning! Guila Clara Kessous is creating "The Women in Diplomacy Project", and hopes to bring together 54 women involved in the governments of the 54 African countries....
"The only time women represent countries," she reminds us, "is in beauty contests. Perhaps it's time to create a real, broader project that would enable a new, female approach to politics.
Woman diplomacy, but without the use of an exclusionary or combative "feminism". The aim is not to exclude men, but to propose that we can all dialogue side by side for the common good, to better serve the community of human beings, in the name of human dignity."
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, first female Nobel Peace Prize winner from Islamic countries, praised the young woman's initiative, hailing "her strength and courage as a diplomatic entrepreneur". Feminist diplomacy finally has a new face...
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