'Hillary effect' behind rise in number of women ambassadors in US

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Washington, Jan 11 (ANI): The rise in the number of female ambassadors to the United States is being attributed to the "Hillary effect".

There are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington, the highest number ever, according to the State Department.

Women remain a distinct minority, there are 182 accredited ambassadors in Washington, but their rise from a cadre of five in the late 1990s to five times that is opening up what had been an elite's men club for more than a century.

"Hillary Clinton is so visible" as Secretary of State. She makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington," said Amelia Matos Sumbana, who just arrived as ambassador from Mozambique.

Three of the last four Secretaries of State, the office that receives foreign ambassadors, have been women, The Washington Post reports.

Madeleine Albright became the first female US Secretary of State in 1997. Condoleezza Rice served from 2005 to 2009.

Clinton, now in her second year, is especially well known abroad because of her stint as first lady and her presidential run; is seen by many as a globetrotting champion of women's rights.

In the Dupont Circle mansion, India's first female ambassador in more than 50 years, Meera Shankar, huddled with top aides after her Prime Minister's state visit with President Barack Obama.

"The pictures of US diplomacy have been strongly dominated by photos of women recently. That helps to broaden the acceptance of women in the field of diplomacy," Shankar said.

Claudia Fritsche, the Ambassador from Liechtenstein, a principality that only gave women the right to vote in 1984, said the Albright-Rice-Clinton sequence has "a worldwide effect. . . . It's inspiring, motivating and certainly encouraging."

Eleven of the 25 female envoys in Washington are from Africa. Four are from Caribbean nations. The others are from Bahrain, the Netherlands, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, Oman, Colombia, India, Liechtenstein and Nauru.

Heng Chee Chan, the Singaporean Ambassador and the longest-serving female envoy in Washington, said it has been a "quantum leap" for women in diplomacy since she arrived here in 1996. (ANI)

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