Interview with Honourable Callaghan The United States’ Consul General in Vancouver on Women’s History Month. by Honoré Gbedze
1. What is the focus of women’s history month?
• Countries all over the world mark International Women’s Day on March 8th, and in the U.S., we extend the celebration throughout all of March.
• During this month, we recognize the accomplishments, sacrifices, and strength of women, who, as President Obama noted, fought to make freedom and equality “as real for our daughters as for our sons…We commemorate their struggles, celebrate centuries of progress, and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security, and dignity of women in America and around the world.”
• We look forward to Women’s History Month each year, and marking it is a priority for the White House and the State Department.
2. Do you think that much progress has been made about women’s situation in the world?
• Of course, progress is visible and undeniable in the U.S., Canada, and throughout the world. That said, there are still challenges, and a great deal of work has yet to be done.
• Statistics show that women own more businesses than ever before, finish higher education at greater rates than men, and are more active in politics. However, at least in the United States, women are still under-represented across the government and business sectors as compared to overall population. Trends are positive, though, and I am confident we will continue to see an increase in women running, competing for, and achieving the highest positions across a variety of fields.
• It really is encouraging and a real inspiration to see the pace of change in some places, particularly those that aren’t traditionally known for women’s equality. Whether it’s serving in elected office, law enforcement, or something as simple as just being able to exercise the right to vote, there has been some very impressive progress over the past decade or so.
• But this progress should not make us lazy, or complacent. There is still a great deal to be done.
3. Does it matter what gender you are when it comes to leadership?
• This is very much a question of the individual. In my career, I have seen excellent leaders and poor leaders…of both genders. Just being a good person or a good worker doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader.
4. The USA is the leading front for women’s equality, and women hold high leadership positions… do you think it’s time to have a female President?
• The million-dollar question!
• Women have led countries all across the world, including Canada, for some time now. And, while American women have been pioneers in so many areas, one has yet to be elected President, though not for lack of trying!
• I think it is only a matter of time. Whether that time comes in 2016 or at some point in the future, it is up to the voters in the U.S.
5. Recently one of the talented African artists, Yared Nigussu did a wonderful mural painting for the inauguration of President Obama here in the Consulate do you have any personal comments about his work?
• We are thrilled to have Yared’s mural on display in our Consulate—it is an honor to showcase outstanding artwork from such an inspired artist. The passion he feels for his work, and, in this case, for President Obama and his journey, is illustrated so vividly in the painting. I cannot think of a better way for our Consulate to celebrate the President’s second inauguration.
Bio: Ms. Callaghan assumed duties as the United States’ Consul General in Vancouver on August 25, 2011.
Anne Callaghan is a career senior Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, with the personal rank of Minister Counselor. Before her assignment as Consul General in Vancouver, she was posted in southeastern Iraq, overseeing the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team in its last year of operation. Ms. Callaghan has also served as Minister Counselor for Public Affairs in Rome where she directed public diplomacy for the U.S. Embassy and three Consulates General (2006-2009); and as Counselor for Public Affairs in Bogota, Colombia (2004-2006). Her last Washington tour was in the senior assignments division of the Bureau of Human Resources (2009-2010).
Ms. Callaghan joined the Foreign Service with the U.S. Information Agency in 1984. After a rotational tour in Mexico City, she opened the first public affairs office in Tijuana (1986-1990) and was responsible for public diplomacy for the six U.S.-Mexico border consulates. She then served two tours in East Asia as Public Affairs Officer in Perth (1990-1992) and as an Assistant Press Attache and Deputy Cultural Attache in Tokyo (1992-1997). Following a year of graduate study at the National War College, Anne worked in Washington in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs as the public diplomacy desk officer for Canada, Mexico, and Cuba (1998-2000). In 2000, Anne moved to Rome as Cultural Attache (2000-2004). Prior to entering the Foreign Service, Ms. Callaghan worked at the Center for Research in International Studies at Stanford University. A native of New Jersey, she received her undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies from Colby College and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan School of Library and Information Science and the National War College. She speaks Japanese, Spanish, and Italian, and is the recipient of U.S. State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor awards and the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service award.