Women diplomats have played a key role in recent years in Turkey's outreach to Africa, one of the pillars of Turkish foreign policy, as 12 female ambassadors and 33 female diplomats serve in Ankara's diplomatic missions across the continent.
They further Turkey's expanding presence in Africa, which has grown from only 12 embassies in 2009 to 42 in 2019, and is expected to reach 50 in the years to come. Carrying out their duty in various parts of Africa, women ambassadors shared with Anadolu Agency (AA) their thoughts on the occasion of International Women's Day 2019.
Stressing women diplomats' great contributions to diplomacy, Burcu Çevik, Turkey's ambassador to the East African country of Rwanda, said: "I am pleased to have the opportunity to get to know African culture and peoples more closely."
Şebnem İncesu, Turkey's ambassador to the southern African country of Zambia, said: "I had the opportunity to observe Africa's human and natural richness, values, and space and time perception during my official duties." Expressing her faith in gender equality, she added: "Women can overcome any problem." Yonca Özçeri, Turkey's ambassador to the West African country of Ivory Coast, told AA: "I am excited and honored to serve as a female ambassador in Africa."
There are many things Turkey can do in the region to better familiarize Africans with Turkey and the Turkish people, she said. Özçeri also stressed the need for more women's involvement in multilateral diplomacy, at the negotiating table, and in senior management positions.
In recent years Turkey has successfully pursued a policy of outreach to Africa by improving and developing its relations with the continent. Rapid progress has also been made in areas such as boosting trade, political dialogue mechanisms, educational activities and economic investments. Trade with the continent ballooned from $3.68 billion in 2003 to $20 billion in 2018, a concrete sign of progress in Turkish-African relations.