March 26, 2015

Romanian Ambassador's Remarks Reflect NDMU Spirit

Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu, the Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, and the first woman in Romania to reach the rank of ambassador, inaugurated Notre Dame’s first annual Visiting Ambassador Program by urging listeners to get involved in the global campaign for gender equality because “empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

“Maya Angelou wisely said ‘A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’ It is high time we hear the songs of every girl and woman!” she said.

Ambassador Miculescu spoke to more than 100 students, faculty, staff and visitors in Knott Auditorium on “Women in International Diplomacy, Development, Peacebuilding and Justice.” She echoed the theme of Notre Dame’s mission to transform the world as she advocated for the participation of women at every level of society in fighting poverty and working for  sustainable development.

President Marylou Yam, Ph.D., in remarks delivered by Christine De Vinne, OSU, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, said Ambassador Miculescu’s visit and the launching of the annual Visiting Ambassador program, along with the recent affiliation of Notre Dame with the UN as an NGO, are part of a concerted effort to extend the university’s global reach. “As a university sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, we commit ourselves to a world perspective and a sense of community that encircles the globe.  Today we highlight our commitment by celebrating our growing ties to the United Nations,” she said.

Ambassador Miculescu noted that the previous week, “New York and UN were taken over by women attending the Commission on the Status of Women,” an event that included a delegation of students and faculty from Notre Dame. It was a special session, she said, as it celebrated 20 years since the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Looking ahead, she pointed to the importance of the September meeting of the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, which will help define the future global development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals. It is vital that women be given full inclusion in these discussions at every level, she said.

“Women’s input in these processes is important,” she said. “And it requires a key feature: women’s participation and leadership. Women can bring fresh perspectives and a different type of approach.

“The important contribution of women to society is no longer limited to being a good mother or a good wife. I think there is a growing consensus that the famous saying ‘behind every successful man is a powerful woman’ should be obsolete. We are no longer only behind the successful man, we are beside him and we also have our own successes. And it is visible at international level, as well.”

And there is progress to be seen at a national and international level. Today there are only 13 women presidents or prime ministers, and she is one of 38 woman ambassadors at the UN out of 193 permanent representatives. But there are women in some key roles at the UN, including special adviser on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the undersecretary general on disarmament affairs, the special representative on sexual violence in conflict, and last year, the first woman UN force commander. Looking ahead, Ambassador Miculescu believes a woman as UN secretary general is not out of the question.

“The presence, involvement, dedication of these women should inspire so many others in joining them,” she said. “It is still a ‘man’s world.’ However, we must all acknowledge that we need a partnership between men and women for advancing human rights, peace and development. We have to bring the other part of the team at the table if we want to genuinely achieve our objectives of reaching gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as the sustainable development of our societies.”