BY FRANCISCO MANUEL MATALLANA PACHECO, Reuters
It is the opening ceremony of the HNMUN 2019 and hundreds of delegates fill the Boston Park Plaza ballroom. The keynote speaker steps up to the microphone and the room goes silent. It’s Samantha Power, 28th United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
The former ambassador gives an extremely empowering and moving speech. Recounting her memories as a child up to her experiences as an envoy to the U.N. under the administration of President Barack Obama. Power uses this opportunity to teach the young diplomats present, both men and women, about the importance of women in positions of power.
“Change what seems possible,” is one of her lessons. In it, she mentions seeing the picture of Jeane Kirkpatrick—the first woman in the U.N. Security Council—and thinking she was able to, just like Kirkpatrick, be in a high position of power and influence. She says just how vivid this memory is, and how it drove her, and inspired her, into the life of a diplomat. A life dedicated to lead and serve in the best interests of her country.
Ambassador Samantha Power at HNMUN 2019 Opening Ceremony ( February 14th, 2019)
However, attending and reporting on the Gabinete De Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, this writer couldn’t help but notice the tragic irony that was the make-up of this significant and dynamic crisis committee, conducted in Spanish by Maria Sofia Corzo Mittelstaedt—a student of Social Sciences at Harvard University, born and raised in the Guatemala City, Guatemala. Also involved in this committee as a delegate personifying one of the male roles, is a woman. The delegate, Maria Angelica Fernandez, shares a Hispanic background with the committee’s chair. The presence of these two women is powerful and very significant here at HNMUN, particularly when it comes to a committee that deals in matters of national security and the welfare of its citizens under dire and urgent circumstances. It is unquestionably a statement of the prowess and capability that a woman can have when under duress and at the helm of critical situations that require intelligent decision making and quick thinking.
What is most unfortunate, however, and gives us a moment to reflect further into the words of Ambassador Power, is the disproportion of women present in this committee. Sofia and Maria stand as the only two women in it, despite doing a noticeably great job directing a crisis committee and giving a credible performance as a crisis delegate, respectively. This reality, at a prestigious and world renowned conference, raises the question of just how far we have, or have not, come as a society, in preparing young girls and women for high positions, not only in crisis committees or government positions, but also other facets of life. This should perhaps be a call to action, and Sofia and Maria, as well as Ambassador Power, serve as an example, of just how far—and how much further—women can go.