T he European Union Ambassador to Nepal Veronica Cody spoke to Nepali Times on International Women’s Day. Excerpts:
Nepali Times: Does it make the job of being an ambassador easier or more difficult if you are a woman?
Ambassador Cody: The duties of an ambassador can be carried out equally well by a man or a woman. Anybody who has gone through the formal process of education and training to become a diplomat can easily accept the challenge. The question is more do men and women have equal access to that education and training. And are women being offered the opportunity to enter and prosper in areas of work which have traditionally been male-dominated, like diplomacy. Gender-stereotyping is still very prevalent, and young girls can inherit prevailing views that the world of politics is not for women.
Over my career, I have seen a considerable increase in the number of women entering diplomatic service in Europe and around the world, and the number of female ambassadors here in Nepal is testimony to that. However, this has been a slow process and there is much room still for greater representation in diplomacy by women, particularly at the highest levels.
Read also: Her Excellencies, Sanghamitra Subba
What have been the reaction of ordinary Nepalis you have met when they have found out you are the EU ambassador?
I have been in Nepal for two-and-a-half years now and I think it is very important to see the whole country, to visit the different provinces and see both urban and rural areas. I travelled to the mid and far west part of the country last year. This year, I travelled to the mid-eastern part of the country. The Nepalis I met were very welcoming and hospitable, and for the most part expressed no surprise on finding out that I was an ambassador. There were a few occasions where the khada and garland of flowers were extended to a male colleague rather than to me – in the expectation that the man must be the ambassador! But once the introduction was made, I was always treated with the utmost respect.
Do you feel like women in media make a difference in coverage?
Each profession has its own prospects and limitations. Media is a field where a diverse workforce and a diverse work environment definitely make a difference in the way issues are covered and dealt with.
Experience from around the world reveals that a larger number of women in the field of media would contribute towards more coverage of issues of concern to women, and more coverage from a woman’s perspective, which is not necessarily that of a man. Women journalists have privileged access to half of the population and that should be considered an asset by their media houses.
I attend many events in Nepal where media professionals are present but I do not see many women. The few women journalists and TV presenters I have met are very vocal about their concerns and are determined in their career choice and what they wish to achieve. The EU supported the first women journalist mountaineers who scaled Everest two years ago. I was impressed by their ambition to get to the Summit, the hard training they undertook to prepare themselves for the challenge, and the determination and resilience they showed in achieving it – all skills that make for great journalism! Women journalists deserve to get to the top of their profession as well, and this would benefit all Nepali citizens.