On March 8, AAFSW hosted a vibrant panel of women in honor of International Women’s Day. This year, the panelists included H.E. Ivonne A-Baki, Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the United States, Madam Angelique Gakoko Pitteloud, and Marion Kavallieros. Each brought their own unique approach to the theme “Global History and Challenges of Women World Leaders”. Below are some highlights from the panel discussions.
Ambassador A-Baki shared that she arrived in politics by mistake. Born to Lebanese parents in Ecuador, she spent her teenage years living in Lebanon. She said in the 1970’s women in the middle east had no voice so she found other ways to express herself, mainly through painting. Through her paintings she showed women had strength through pain and perseverance. While an artist in residence at Harvard, she became in involved in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. She was the only women at the table during the peace negotiations between Ecuador and Peru in 1995 which ended the last war in the Western Hemisphere. Through her successful work during those negotiations, she was selected to be Ambassador to the United States and when she arrived in Washington, DC in 1998, she was one of four women Ambassadors. Fast forward to the year 2020 when she is once again Ambassador to the United States, she is one of 42 women Ambassadors. Ambassador A-Baki stressed that women provide unconditional love, we are multifaced and we are born empowered – we give birth and create future generations. She emphasized the need to put light on others and through leadership, make other leaders in the next generation.
Madame Angelique Gakoko Pitteloud, is a global woman. She was born in Rwanda, fled to Switzerland in the mid 1990’s and where she lived for a number of years. She is married to Jacques Pitteloud, the Swiss Ambassador to the United States. Madame Pitteloud is committed to sharing humanities history and she highlights success stories on equality, human rights and women’s’ rights. Through her work, there is a focus on Africa. Madame Pitteloud referenced the film L’Afrique des femmes (Women’s Africa) which she co-produced – the film highlights women off the beaten track; women making change in politics, economics and education. She stated the continent can and will achieve equality and opportunities for ALL. She continued that dreams keep us going and can shape reality of the future.
Marion Kavallieros, is a Greek academic who grew up in Athens, Greece. During the panel discussion she spoke about Spartan women. In a time when men and women were not viewed equally, Sparta defied other city-states. Sparta with a population of about 10,000 citizens was different – women were equal to men and enjoyed liberties other women in Greece did not. They trained for athletic competition, were encouraged to speak in public and were consulted by men. Spartan women could own property and land and receive inheritance. Spartan women were honored. Ms. Kavallieros asked – what happened? How can we make societies more inclusive? How can women trust their own voices? Through education and respect, women can once again rise to the level of reverence that was once common in Sparta.
As Ambassador A-Baki declared “Everyday should be women’s day”
Happy International Women’s Day!