2020 a year for celebration, strength, vigilance by: Susana Malcorra

Friday, April 24, 2020
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In honor of the second annual International Day for Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, WPL looks to the world’s amazing women leaders, who are experts in the field of diplomacy, multilateralism and peacekeeping, to guide the global community in advancing multilateralism, women’s equality and peacebuilding efforts. Susana Malcorra, Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, describes the unbridled opportunities that the “digital fast forward,” set in motion by the current pandemic, offers for inclusive multilateral action, namely ensuring that a diverse set of stakeholders is always at the table via the use of virtual communication.


A Year for Celebration, Strength, Vigilance

By: Susana Malcorra, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs


The year 2020 promised to be one with many milestones of celebration and reflection regarding global cooperation and governance. For example, the first resolution ever made regarding women, peace, and security – the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 – will mark its twentieth year since adoption this October.


Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has and will continue to interfere with planned celebrations for the many anniversaries this year for advancements in gender equality and global development. Gatherings have either been outright canceled or postponed. But, this does not strip us of the opportunity to reflect.  In fact, this unique situation allows us a new way to learn, and to resolve global issues, to protect our global public goods.  If anything, we should invest more and re-think how our global architecture addresses the challenges that we face in this XXI Century. 


The coronavirus has brought about a digital fast forward and has forced us to realize and adapt to the fact that there are many ways to mingle beyond the corridors of the United Nations. Thanks to innovations in technology, we can exchange ideas, enter discussions, and participate in open forums in a more productive way than ever before thought possible. It is now clear that there is simply no excuse for having one-sided discussions.  The situation calls for – and in fact, corresponding technology adaption facilitates – bringing multiple, diverse stakeholders to the table.  These include – but are in no way limited to — women, young people, public and private institutions, and civil society.


There is a great opportunity in this “liquid reality,” in which virtual access could further democratize conversations regarding how to transform key decisions of the past into operational certainties of the present. It is possible to envision a stronger participatory model for women all over the world, one that brings forth voices that keep the global agenda moving forward. Growing such a “movement” in the digital space, particularly now when the world finds itself living through a period of confinement, would be yet another example of how women endure, adapt, and persist in times of hardship.  Resilience is one of women’s most recognised strengths and will prove to be one of the differentiating factors during these times of uncertainty.


However, some governments in different parts of the world are deepening their authoritarian stand and curtailing human rights, suppressing freedoms in the name of security, and concentrating more power in the hands of a few.  All of this represents a risk for women who could see their rights be further diminished.


2020 promised to be a year of great celebration for gender equality in diplomacy. It still is. It is also proving to be a year of uncertainty and of vigilance. We must raise our collective voices and continue to push – both for what is yet to be implemented and to protect what we have already achieved.