Page 6, 9th October 1942

9th October 1942
Page 6
Page 6, 9th October 1942 — At Last We have a British Woman Diplomat
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At Last We have a British Woman Diplomat

By GRACE CONWAY

When I read that Britain had at long last raised a woman to diplomatic status — Miss Craig McGeachy, who is on Mr. Harold Butler's staff in the Press and Public Relations Department of the British Embassy in Washington—I asked Miss Barry, hon. secretary of St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance, what she thought about it.

" I think its long overdue," Miss Barry said. " But late as it is we welcome it. It's one of the things we've been working for for a long time. We want to see women appointed widely in the Colonial Service, too."

WOMAN AT THE VATICAN It was in 1934 that the chairman, Mrs. Laughton Matthews, M.13,E., and Miss Barry gave evidence on behalf of St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance before the Committee on the Employment of Women in the Diplomatic and Consular Services. During the hearing Mrs. Laughton Matthews was asked if she thought a woman secretary could be appointed to the Vatican to take charge in the absence of the Minister, and she replied, " I do not see why not."

One of the formidable objections made at this hearing was the marriage bar. It was suggested that an English woman diplomat might marry a German whereby she would lose her nationality. " Would you suggest that we still retain her?"

" Just as much as if an Englishman married a German woman," was the reply. Nationality laws would have to be altered. " It is just an elementary right of humanity to retain your own nationality," Mrs. Laughton Matthews added.

LATIN COUNTRIES LEAD In September, 1941, St. Joan's was again in the front line of battle when claims claims were put forward by the Woman Power Committee and the Women's Organisations for the admission of women to the Diplomatic and Consular Services. But they did not agree with Miss Cazalet, M.P., when she suggested in her speech that " public opinion in the East and Latin countries might be against such changes."

The Latin countries, as Miss Barry pointed out to me, and as has been mentioned before in this paper, are well ahead of us when it comes to giving women opportunities to serve in public capacities. As far back as 1928 Frances E. Willis was appointed by the United Stales as Vice-Consul at Valparaiso; Mlle B. Stogsdall, also U.S.A., was oppointed Vice-Consul in Beirut; Miss Olga de la Barra was made Chilean Vice-Consul for Scotland and later Senorita Elsa Perot' Smitt was made Chancellor to the Consulate General of Bolivia in London. In 1934 Madame Lucienne Godoy, better known as Gabriel Mistral, the writer, was made Consul General for -Chile in Madrid. Madame Palencia was Spanish Ambassador in Stockholm. One of the present members of St. Joan's Alliance, Nadjeka Stancioff (now Lady Muir), held. a diplomatic post in Washington for Bulgaria. Another member, Exma Senora Licinio, was first consul in Rome for Brazil in 1939. Coming to evert more recent history we have the appointment by the Cuban Government of Senorita Teresa Rosa Durland to the Cuban Legation in London. Senorita

Durland has now become a member of St. Joan's Alliance.

That, then, is fairly formidable evidence that Britain has been lagging a long way behind Latin countries in its recognition of women's ability to hold diplomatic posts.

FIRST WOMAN DIPLOMAT IN GENEVA " Have you ever ne4t our first woman diplomat?" I asked Miss Barry.

" Yes. I knew her in Geneva. She is Canadian born—young-looking, fair and pretty. Site was working at the League of Natians, on nutrition, chiefly, I think. She helped with the various women's international organisations and altogether did outstanding work. She was over in this country a few months ago."

Now that the ice is broken, Miss Barry looks forward to more women getting diplomatic and consular posts, " for which I consider," she said, " they are eminently suited."




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