THE ROLE OF FIRST LADIES IN DIPLOMACY
The First Lady’s diplomacy has a long history and tradition in international relations in many Western countries.
In the United States, many former first ladies – from Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama – have taken an active role in public diplomacy.
The recent presence of Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the United States Capitol to demand that more weapons be sent to her native country proved the more pronounced role of first ladies in peacekeeping missions.
In Asia, Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan has played an active role in diplomacy to support President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy since 2013. For China, Peng’s friendly and charismatic presence in Chinese diplomacy has been important in creating a counter-perception against Xi’s assertive diplomacy. style.
The first ladies have not only accompanied their husbands on trips abroad, but have also taken solo trips to a number of countries on diplomatic missions. One example is Michelle Obama’s trip to China in 2014, which was hailed for its success in showing US goodwill amid its complex relationship with China.
In general, there is still little academic research on first lady diplomacy. Studies on women and their role in international affairs primarily examine female diplomats and foreign ministers based on their diplomatic and negotiation skills.
The diplomatic efforts and effects of the first ladies, as well as their merits for the national interests of their country, have not been widely reported and recognized. This is understandable given that first ladies generally have no official constitutional duties other than ceremonial roles.