The bilateral relationship between the United States and Cuba has come a long way since April 6, 1960 when it was deemed that “every possible means should be taken to weaken the Cuban economic life.” Back then, U.S. policy toward Cuba was categorized by non-recognition of the Cuban government’s legitimacy; diplomatic isolation in the hemisphere and beyond; and economic, financial, and commercial blockade.
The past month saw the departure of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton from the U.S. Department of State (State). Clinton spent her time at State advocating for the use of smart power, which included the support for and creation of many public diplomacy initiatives, including the creation of an annual Global Diaspora Forum, the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, the Chef Corps, and an increased emphasis on digital engagement via “21st Century Statecraft.”
Never before has the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment garnered the attention that it does today. On television, radio and the Internet, in newspapers, books and magazines, around meals and in political speeches, people are talking about the role of women, whether at home, in the workforce, or in the political arena. In the United States, there has much discussion around the question: Can women have it all? and the responses are just as divided as the votes were in the recent national election.
Since President Obama and Secretary Clinton appointed me the United States’ first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues in 2009, I have traveled to more than 50 countries, and met with women and men from all walks of life. I have met with a wide range of people – from corporate CEOs, to women leading grassroots NGOs.
This fall, the PDiN team noticed a significant increase in articles on gastrodiplomacy due in large part to the State Department’s launch of the “American Chef Corps,” a diplomatic culinary partnership aiming to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts.” This news resulted in a flurry of articles, partly because it is a novel idea but also because of the celebrity chef star power that joined the initiative.
Women around the world are increasingly taking on more high-profile leadership roles in foreign affairs and public diplomacy. Similarly, public diplomacy priorities are increasingly focused on women and women’s issues. From your perspective, how has this shift towards the importance of women impacted your country’s public diplomacy priorities or affected your country’s public?