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  March 16th, 2023 | Written by

New York’s Diplomatic Community Celebrates IWD, Reinforces Commitment to Women’s Causes

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Diplomatic and consular representations in New York reinforced their commitment to promoting women’s causes and held celebrations to mark the International Women’s Day.  Though the IWD is, officially, on March 8, some institutions and consular representations celebrated it a day or two earlier while others did it a day or two later. 

Indeed, the Indian consulate general provided its architecturally iconic premises for hosting an event to mark the IWD together with the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, bringing together consuls, diplomats and prominent female personalities from 15 nations.  Indeed, the Indian consulate general’s historic building – it is part of the so-called Upper East Side Historic District under the Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York, and was built in 1903 for Carrie Astor (later known as Mrs. Orme Wilson) as a private residence flaunting a Beaux Arts street façade constructed with Indiana limestone and crowned with a mansard roof – provided a perfect setting for the international gathering, with each consular representation projecting the culture, traditional music and dancing, and a spread of culinary delights of their countries. 

Moderated by Karina Tuspekova from the Kazakhstan consulate general, the evening’s proceedings opened with an Indian dancer rendering a classical Indian dance performance which seemed to impress the guests who broke into a thunderous applause.  This was followed by traditional songs and dances by performers from Bulgaria, Chile, Serbia and other countries. 

Addressing the high-profiled guests in the hall of the Indian consulate building, Edward Mermelstein, New York City’ Commissioner for International Relations, underscored the city’s commitment to women’s causes and the need to create gender equality and stop discrimination against women. 

In his welcome speech, an elated Randhir Jaiswal, the Indian consul general, hailed New York’s multicultural and diverse ethnic fabric.  He thanked New York City Mayor Eric Adams for his endeavors to bring about a rich cultural diversity in the city.  Jaiswal also spoke about the goal of food security worldwide.  India, on its part, is promoting millet grain exports and, as some guests were saying, the grain would be a “welcome addition” to the nutritional needs of American consumers who maintained an open mind to new cuisines.  “Millet can contribute to the global efforts to achieve food security,” Jaiswal told Global Trade. 

Ambassador Marita Landaveri, Peru’s consul general and the president of the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, presented neatly-framed certificates, expressing appreciation for the contributions of individual countries present at the IDB event.  She highlighted the significance of the IWD and underlined the need to achieve gender parity. 

Besides the host India, other countries represented at the event included Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, El Salvador, Guyana, Kazakhstan Nigeria, Peru, Serbia and Turkey.  The participating consular representations had set up national food stands in another hall of the building, presenting a kaleidoscopic view of international food delicacies. 

Other foreign missions and representations also celebrated the IWD.  The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, as Taiwan’s representations in the U.S. are known in the absence of formal diplomatic recognition, marked the IWD by hosting a colorful fashion show by Claudia Wang, a young female Taiwanese fashion designer, depicting the latest haute couture creations.  The event, jointly organized by Taiwan’s representation with the permanent missions of Palau, and Saint Lucia, was called “Taiwan Night: Celebrating Women in Tech”.   

“New York is a dream place for all fashion designers.  I have also participated in London in spring 2022.  My goal is to set up an office in New York,” Wang said in an interview on the sidelines of the fashion show which was part of Taiwan’s “Gender Equality Week” coinciding with the just-concluded 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. 

Wang said that she combined her passion for art and design with virtual technology and sustainable fashion practices. 

The young designer, who has been in the fashion business for three years and studied at the Technology Institute in Taipei, explained her motive for coming to New York: “New York offers all kinds of opportunities for all newcomers”. 

The American fashion arena which was once the exclusive domain of French and Italian designers, today presents a geographically versatile picture, with many Asian designers having carved out a niche for themselves.  Designers such as Anna Sui, Vivienne Tam, Vera Wang and others broke into a market at a time when Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, etc. ruled the roost. Each of the Asian designers introduced a new element of aesthetics to the fashion world.  

A new vanguard of Asian designers, many of whom have opted for U.S. citizenship, includes Zang Toi, Phillip Lim, Richard Chai, Peter Som, Bibhu Mohapatra, Derek Lam, etc. 

While Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, it maintains that it observes UN-related goals and principles, including the world body’s Social Development Goals (SDGs).  Organizing an event to mark the IWD was in alignment with the UN program. 

“Although Taiwan has established a strong reputation as a hi-tech hub, it also has a well-developed fashion environment with many aspiring designers keen to make a mark on the international fashion landscape,” said James K.J. Lee, the Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York. 

Constance H. Wang, the director general heading the Department of NGO International Affairs at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while emphasizing the IWD’s significance observed that women were increasingly involved not only in the hi-tech sector but also in fashion business , adding that “the IWD is a good occasion to profile Taiwan’s fashion industry”. 

Manik Mehta, a New York based journalist, writes extensively on foreign affairs/diplomacy, U.S. bilateral relations, global markets, business/trade, shipping/logistics, aviation, etc..