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Black Women Ambassadors: Contesting International Gender Hierarchies

(L-R) Dr. Dawuni, Amb. Mulamula, Amb. Chihombori-Quao and Amb. Phillip-Browne In 1991, Charlesworth, Chinkin and Wright’s article on Feminist Approaches to International Law provided a set of lens for understanding and challenging the hierarchical and patriarchal nature of international law. Since then, their findings revolutionized the development of new studies seeking to question the place of women in international law, international organizations and diplomacy. Consequently, a growing body of scholarship drawing largely from feminist institutionalism and other theoretical frameworks have examined women in international organizations, foreign service and international diplomacy. Unsurprisingly, this body of feminist legal jurisprudence and international diplomacy has tended to focus on women in the “global north”, to the exclusion of women in the “global south.” While women across the continent of Africa have made great strides in the international arena–– including the political, legal and economic spheres, the subject of African women in the foreign service and international diplomacy has eluded many scholars. At the recently ended 61st Annual Conference of the African Studies Association, held in Atlanta, GA from November 29- December 1 2018, Dr. J. Jarpa Dawuni, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University convened a roundtable discussion on Black women ambassadors. The goal of this roundtable was to bridge the gap between academia and the world of diplomacy. The first of several Ambassador Series to follow, this roundtable focused on exploring the voices of Black women Ambassadors and how they negotiate their intersectional identities in the world of international diplomacy. The roundtable discussion brought together three women Ambassadors from Africa and the Caribbean regions, to explore important questions on gender and diplomacy.

Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao Presenting a wider continental perspective was H.E Ambassador Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the current Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United States. Prior to her appointment as the AU Ambassador, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao was a family medicine doctor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with over thirty-years of experience in the medical field.