A woman of sub­stance

Western Suburbs Weekly - - International Women’s Day - By GIO­VANNI TORRE

US Con­sul Gen­eral Rachel Cooke has worked around the world as a diplo­mat and will bring a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to an In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day (IWD) event on March 10 at Crown. Ms Cooke has served as Con­sul Gen­eral sinceau­gust, hav­ing worked as a diplo­mat for 15 years af­ter five years at NASA and the US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

She will be the main speaker at Han­cock

Prospect­ing’s IWD lunch.

She will talk about her work and the women who in­flu­enced her.

“I have had a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties where I was of­ten the only woman in the room,” she said.

“In places like Afghanistan al­most every­one as­sumes it must have been quite dif­fi­cult for me there, but I got to do twice as much as my male col­leagues be­cause I in­ter­acted with Afghan women. “I found my work in Afghanistan to be not only re­ward­ing but com­pelling.” Ms Cooke said the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion set a min­i­mum per­cent­age of Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment who must be fe­male to as­sist the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women af­ter many years in the shadow of the Tal­iban.

“Here in Aus­tralia right now the three con­suls gen­eral are women,” she said.

“This is some­thing Amer­i­cans – like in Aus­tralia – have been fo­cussed on for the past 40 years, in­creas­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties for women.

“Do we have an equal num­ber of women in Congress or on the boards of the big cor­po­ra­tions?

“No, but we are con­tin­u­ally im­prov­ing that sit­u­a­tion.”

Ms Cooke said the leader who had the great­est im­pact on her was her great-grand­mother, a suf­fragette in New York City.

She said peo­ple were work­ing for women’s lib­er­a­tion around the world.

“In the 1960s and ‘70s in Afghanistan women were doc­tors and taught at uni­ver­si­ties and had Phds and that was all gone,” she said.

“They are work­ing their way slowly back now.

“In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day is very im­por­tant. I am pleased to see it is some­thing cel­e­brated here.

“In the US I had never even heard of it un­til I was work­ing in Kyr­gyzs­tan; and there it was huge.

“Many women there ap­pre­ci­ated hav­ing a day like IWD.”

The IWD lun­cheon is in sup­port of the Kiss Vi­o­lence Against Women Good­bye cam­paign and run by the Mo­men­tum For Aus­tralia char­ity.

Tick­ets are avail­able at http://mo­men­tum­fo­rumevents.com. au.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d465369

US Con­sul Gen­eral Rachel Cooke.

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