By Tanya Brothen
When Embassy Bangui made plans to celebrate International Women’s Day—recognized worldwide on March 8—they did not know it would be disrupted by a global pandemic and post’s subsequent ordered departure. Bangui—along with Juba and Mogadishu—is one of three Special Incentive Posts in Africa, primarily due to recurring civil unrest and the presence of armed groups throughout much of the country. These difficult conditions have not deterred strong women leaders from the call to service. Back from the ordered departure, the women of Embassy Bangui gathered outdoors to recognize their contributions to the U.S. mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), Oct. 6. This year’s celebration also recognized the remarkable fact that women hold nearly all of post’s American leadership positions, including ambassador, deputy chief of mission, management officer, public affairs officer, political/economic/consular officer, USAID senior humanitarian advisor, Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachment commander, assistant regional security officer, and the ambassador’s office management specialist.
Attendees of the event remarked that this breadth of female leadership is not common in the Department of State workplaces and should serve as a model for its diversity and inclusion efforts.
“I look around, and I see women in such a vast range of occupations,” said Staff Sergeant Elizabeth Dollinger, MSG detachment commander during her opening remarks at the event. “Women dedicated to keeping the embassy safe, women in leadership positions, and women working to ensure the embassy functions as an effective community.”
Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn thanked, in particular, all of post’s women locally employed staff, who face enormous challenges in CAR, including one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates and a less than 25 percent literacy rate for women.
“I am proud each and every day to be surrounded by women of courage, determination, and professionalism here at the U.S. embassy,” she said.
Tanya Brothen is the public affairs officer at Embassy Bangui.