Catriona Boyd

Deputy Consul General, British Consulate-General Melbourne

Guest blogger for UK in Australia

Part of UK in Australia

2nd February 2021 Canberra, Australia

Be a High Commissioner for a Day Competition #HC4aday

Four young women holding hands

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about gender equality. But it’s also an opportunity to stop and reflect on what more can be done to ensure a gender equal world. At a time where the impacts of COVID-19 are being found to be worse for women “across every sphere, from health to economy, security to social protection” , this is important as ever.

As a British diplomat, who is relatively new to the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), I am often inspired by the many women leading some of the UK’s most high profile diplomatic missions around the world, including New York, Washington, NATO, Beijing and, of course, Canberra. And the FCDO is committed to promoting gender equality through our international policy work too, such as the work of the UK’s Envoy for Girls’ Education and our support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal seeking to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

As an organisation, we want to ensure we are leading by example and can act upon the very best ideas to promote gender equality. This time last year, I was lucky enough to be listening to an excellent panel exploring the role of women in politics and business. A year on, something that sticks in my mind was a unanimous agreement that you can’t be what you can’t see. I grew up in a small town in Scotland where use of the word ‘diplomat’ was limited to films, and exactly what the job entailed was anyone’s guess. It wasn’t until after a move to London in my early-20s that I discovered jobs like mine were available, and more importantly, accessible. If young people can only be what they can see, then it’s also important that we help them know where to look.

That is why, for International Women’s Day 2021, the UK in Australia team will be offering the chance for young women, including trans+, to experience being a High Commissioner, Consul General or a Director of the British Council for a day (you can find out more about what these jobs involve here). Working alongside the heads of our offices in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, the winners of our easy-to-enter competition will get a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into what life is like in a diplomatic mission and the chance to learn more about key issues, from trade to climate action.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge which is why we’re asking competition entries to submit a short video to our Vimeo page telling us how you would #choosetochallenge gender stereotypes or what policy you would introduce to challenge gender equality. Get creative, share with friends, and tell us what’s important to you.

All the information can be found here.

Choose to challenge. We would love to have you join us for a day. Why can’t it be you?