Ms. Simona Leskovar is the Republic of Slovenia’s State Secretary and Minister of State for Slovenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An accomplished international diplomat, Ms. Leskovar has dedicated her career to diplomacy, women’s empowerment, and building a more inclusive world.
The view from a higher perch
基調講演The view from a higher perch
How women can succeed, individually and collectively
Ms. Leskovar briefly shared her background and previous diplomatic roles. Her main message was women’s empowerment and the importance of unlocking their potential to realize a more gender-inclusive world. With a smile, she asked everyone to remember that Slovenia is the only country in the world with the word “love” in it.
Growing up in a hard-working, traditional home, Ms. Leskovar was always encouraged by her family to push her limits and pursue her dreams. After studying international affairs, she joined the Slovenian Foreign Service and served in Slovenia, Washington D.C., and the UN in New York. In 2015, she was named Envoy to Japan, her first ambassadorial post. She served in Japan until 2018 when she returned to Slovenia and was appointed State Minister, which is a Deputy Foreign Minister. She accepted, based on the condition that she could remain a diplomat and not get involved in politics.
Ms. Leskovar shared that she didn’t face too many obstacles as a woman, something she attributes to the environment in which she was raised. However, it is clear that her relatively smooth path has further motivated her to work on her goal of achieving gender equality.
She also shared some insightful UN data on women’s participation, roles, and presence in the workforce, particularly in the diplomacy world. In her words, “If half of the population is excluded, sustainable development will be challenged, as well as the promise of the 2030 agenda to “Leave No One Behind”. Ms. Leskovar added, “Data shows that when women participate in decision-making processes on equal footing with men, societies become more resilient, integrated, and successful.” She lauded the Slovenian government’s recent legally binding quota system, which has brought women’s participation in government to above 30%, over the EU average.
Ms. Leskovar then elaborated on three points that she finds crucial in the climb to gender equality:
1) Women need to sit at the table. Don’t expect to get the corner office by sitting on the sidelines.
2) Women need to support other women. Alone, women have power. Collectively, we have impact.
3) Women should be strong and determined mentors. Role models are crucial and mentorship matters for women.
Ms. Leskovar offered a strategy she used to overcome doubts about her own abilities; just put your head down and let your work speak for itself. She added that confidence matters as much as competence, closing with, “Ladies, be confident, but don’t turn into men. Celebrate your own strong points. Because at the end of the day, we will only regret all the chances we didn’t take.”