British ambassador to Nepal Nicola Pollitt arrived in Nepal 15 months ago, and much of her time here has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. She spoke to Nepali Times this week about dealing simultaneously with Covid-19 and the climate crisis, girls’ education and women leaders, and the UK’s commitment to the COVAX vaccine initiative. Excerpts:
Nepali Times: How has your journey as a diplomat been, and the challenge you had to face to reach this point?
Nicola Pollitt: I have been in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for 18 years, but when I started I hadn’t envisioned being an ambassador. However, it seemed like an interesting career and one, which had an international outlook.
I took up the jobs that came my way and over time they lead me to be here in Nepal as the ambassador, which is a huge privilege. And despite the challenges of coronavirus, which has dominated most of my time here so far, it’s been fascinating and I’m hoping to have many more interesting chances to explore the country over the next year or two.
What are the elements that contribute to women’s empowerment, and ensure that we have strong women leaders?
Education is the foundation of women’s empowerment, if girls don’t have a good education, they are never going to have the confidence or opportunities to make their own decisions and choices as their male counterparts might have. But building on that is a range of other things such as women’s employment and breaking gender stereotypes.
We have seen that countries led by women have done better in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. New Zealand and Finland come to mind. What is it that women bring to governance that makes them more effective leaders?
Women bring a different perspective and one that has been built on their own experience, in many cases, they have had to overcome challenges that perhaps others don’t face. That is not to say that women leaders are better, but the way they interact with other leaders and their teams can sometimes offer different ways through problems. And I think that balance, that range of perspective is really important.
Women leaders seen, but not heard, Shristi Karki