The U.S. Agency for Global Media’s international radio broadcaster Voice of America recently interviewed Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson about the historical significance of opening the new Vital Voices Global Headquarters for Women’s Leadership in Washington, DC.
While this monument to female leadership is unique in that it also serves as a first-of-its-kind embassy for women, located just a few blocks from The White House, the reality is that it is a unicorn in its space. Across America, less than 10 percent of historic monuments commemorate the accomplishments of women, according to Smithsonian magazine.
Voice of America’s director of current affairs programming and host of the radio program Press Conference USA, Carol Castiel asked Alyse about why representation matters in this regard and the significance of having a building dedicated to women’s leadership in the heart of the United States capital.
Read Alyse’s answer in the short Q&A below and listen to the full interview on Promoting Female Leadership on Apple Podcasts.
Carol Castiel: What “value add” does that embassy in Washington bring to your overall mission?
Alyse Nelson: [Vital Voices Global Partnership has] been around now for 25 years and very few people, though oddly enough, know about the work that we do. A lot of it is because, quite frankly, we’ve done it behind the scenes, supporting leaders like Malala Yousafzai after she was shot, helping her to incubate. What is the Malala Fund today, right? But in those early days where she was still in the hospital fighting for her own life, that’s where we had stepped in to provide support, very much under her direction.
But we have always worked very much behind the scenes because we have always wanted to put the women leaders who we’re supporting, and their bold ideas for change, in the forefront. So, I think part of this is about coming out from behind the curtain, which I think, quite frankly, is so critical right now because people need to know that yes, women can organize and march in the streets, and that’s extremely important to protest so that people can visually see us, but I think that a global embassy gives us a sense, not just Vital Voices, but quite frankly this whole movement for women’s rights and women’s leadership, a real place of permanence and I think that that’s important.
We are on 16th Street in what the mayor has now coined the “Equality Corridor.” You’ve got Black Lives Matter Plaza right down the street, you’ve got the Human Rights Campaign building – which really was a signal and a huge visible support for the LBGTQI+ community when it first came around, that was maybe 15 years ago. But I think that it’s important to have monuments and places that are spaces for women.
You know, you think about monuments around the world, I think it’s something like only 6 percent are, you know, made for women. And obviously women have done a lot more than 6 percent of the leadership over our history in this country and around the world.
So, having spaces that are made for women, places for women to gather, that are known, that are public, and that are prominently positioned at the seat of power.”
To listen to the full interview
on Voice of America’s website visit:
Promoting Female Leadership – Press Conference USA