BY MICHELLE COHEN
WAS BORN IN A LOVELY TOWN OF A SMALL INSULAR COUNTRY IN THE GREATER ANTILLES WHERE THE PACE OF LIFE TICKED SLOWLY. At the time, Dominican Republic (DR) had 5.2 million habitants isolated from the rest of the world, counting with very little opportunities for growth. Specifically for us girls, the chances of being something other than a perfect house wife was a farfetched dream. Luckily for me, my family roots and as a Jew, helped build up a fight against all odds, and encouraged me to become something different. For women, the chances to occupy a position of influence in a country with limited education, a small economy, and virtually no exchange with other nations were slim. The search for better education and form part of a productive society, lead me along with my family to leave La Vega, Dominican Republic, and move for several years to Jerusalem and the United States. Leaving DR helped me gain a broader perspective, learning that parameters of success are defined by good education and extensive training. This is the foundation of who I am today, and it also what committed me to return, motivate and expand the horizons of my generation, so together we could make the right choices and become a more competitive nation. In my travels I discovered how fundamental rights play such an important role in gaining wellness as a society. Before graduating high school, I started writing in national newspapers, hosted radio programs and participated in TV shows to generate awareness and motivate my emerging generation. In doing so, my advocacy efforts where recognized with a National Youth Award. I studied law with a special focus in International Relations, Human Rights and Economic Law. My first experience in public sector was as a journalist in assistance to the President of Dominican Republic. This experience, along with my time at the United Nations Development Program in DR, lead me to become one of the youngest woman diplomats, being appointed Ambassador to Multilateral Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic. Shortly thereafter, I was appointed representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna Austria, and then chairwoman of board of the Antitrust Agency. Every member of society serves the state on way or another, but not all are given the chance to learn and grow from their experiences while serving. I feel privileged and honored to have been granted the opportunity to devote my life to public service during the Dominican Republic’s most significant stage of development and growth. It is worth nothing, even after several decades of collective effort, few woman leaders today occupy top influential positions in the public sector. The political climate in Dominican Republic has not evolved and still holds many barriers in achieving gender equality. For us women it takes far more skills, courage, tenacity and diplomacy to climb the corporate ladder without neglecting the female values that could delicately transform any environment. Successful transformation in government cannot be obtained without the presence and involvement of woman, which in the case of DR, we represent 54% of the overall population but currently occupy 8% of the top level cabinet position in the executive branch, 9% in Senate, 25% of the lower chamber of congress, and less than 13% are City Mayors. It is the combined effort and active involvement of empowered men and women that lead communities to flourish and nations to thrive. Even under the predominant male leadership, woman are the largest group outside of government responsible of driving and directing social initiatives, the real voice in shifting the paradigm of our country. We stand to displace clientelism in public service for attracting and rewarding those who hold best skillset and share the common interest to build better policies that focus on the greater good. I am extremely passionate in finding solutions to improve the opportunities my generation has in our country. The political stakeholders talk a great talk about great potential, but do not take actions to inspire and engage capable, educated, and motivated woman, or even men, to carry out the change required to build a prosperous society. I am always ready to move forward, never backwards, not even to leverage an impulse. My hope is to find a way to work together, let’s start now.
For us women it takes far more skills, courage, tenacity and diplomacy to climb the corporate ladder without neglecting the female values that could delicately transform any environment ffffffffff