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In the past hours, all of Greece and the Vatican entered the illuminated page in the history book entitled “The First Lady Takes Over”, after two bold decisions for the first time in history to install a woman in leadership positions in these two small countries.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis, the Pope of the Catholic Church, broke on Wednesday the inherited traditions and appointed the first woman to a high position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is the male-dominated ministry that handles diplomatic and administrative affairs in the Vatican.
Italian Francesca di Giovanni, 66, will take a new management position in a department known as Relations with Countries, where she will be appointed to the rank of Deputy Minister, effectively becoming one of two deputy foreign ministers.
The Catholic Church allows only the ordination of men as priests, and women are usually restricted to administrative tasks that are not visible.
But women’s groups, including the International Confederation of Female General Presidents of Monasteries, an umbrella group for Catholic nuns, have long demanded the Pope appoint more women to senior positions within the Vatican administrative entity.
A statement from the Vatican confirms the appointment of Di Giovanni that she will take charge of the affairs of the multilateral relations in the Ministry, which she has worked with since 1993, and Di Giovanni specializing in international law and human rights.
She told the official Vatican News website of the Vatican that her appointment is “unprecedented” even though “responsibility is linked to the job, not to the fact that she is a woman.”
She added, “Women may have some skills to find commonalities and sincerely repair relationships. I hope that as a woman, I will reflect positively on this mission, even if it is a gift that I find sure in my fellow men as well. ”
Who is Francesca de Giovanni?
Giovanni was born in Palermo in 1953, worked in the General Secretariat for 27 years and holds a law degree, and after completing practical training as a notary, she worked in the legal administrative field, and on September 15, 1993, she began working as an official in the Department of Relations with the state secretariat states, she worked Di Giovanni in the multilateral sector, especially in the areas of migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law, communications, private international law, the status of women, intellectual property, and tourism.
With the appointment of Giovanni, the Department of Relations with States will include two agents: De Giovanni will work alongside Monsignor Mirosso Wachovsky, who will continue to work primarily in the field of bilateral diplomacy.
And the site «Vatican News» interviewed Di Giovanni, and when asked, were you surprised by the appointment to the position of undersecretary ?, she said yes, definitely! For several years we have been thinking about the need for an undersecretary for the multilateral sector, as it is a delicate sector and its demands need special attention, because it has its own procedures, and in some ways it differs from that used in the bilateral field, but I honestly did not think that the Holy Father entrusted this role .
She added that it is a new role and I will try my best to live up to the confidence of Pope Francis, but I hope I will not do it on my own, I would like to count on the harmony that has characterized our staff so far.
On her question about what is “the multilateral sector”, she said that it is a sector that deals with the relations between intergovernmental organizations at the international level and includes a network of multilateral treaties, which is important because it embodies the political will of states regarding various issues related to the international public interest: this includes development The environment, protection of victims of conflict, the status of women, etc.
Regarding the nature of her work, she said that she will continue to deal with what you have been following up to in the department of relations with countries, although I am in this new role, and I will be responsible for coordinating work in this field.
And about confirming that she is the first woman to occupy a position at this level in the Vatican General Secretariat, she affirmed that it is the first time that a woman occupies an administrative position in the State Secretariat, Pope Francis has made an unprecedented decision, and certainly, a decision that personally represents me an indication of concern towards women, But responsibility is more related to work than to being a woman.
In Greece, breaking traditions, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nominated Mrs. Ekaterini Sakylaropoulou, who holds a senior position in the judiciary, as the country’s president.
If this nomination is approved in Parliament, the 63-year-old judge who presides over the Council of State will be the first woman to hold this honorary position in Greece.
No session in parliament has been decided yet to vote on the appointment, but it should be done by February 13, a month before the end of the current term of President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, according to «AFP».
Sakylaropoulou said after Mitsutakis’ announcement that choosing the position of the country’s highest position “honors both justice and modern Greek women”.
“It is time for Greece to open up to the future,” Mitsotakis said in a televised speech, stressing that his choice breaks the traditions not only because Sakylaropoulou is a woman, but also because she does not belong to any party, noting that the choice “involves unity and progress.”
For her part, Sakylaropoulou told the official INI news agency that her candidacy was an “honor” for her, as she thanked the Prime Minister for expressing her willingness to “dedicate herself with all the power she has for this great duty.”
“I agree to nominate, and if elected, I will devote all my efforts to serving this high duty, as stipulated in the constitution,” she said, adding that she will refrain from carrying out her active legal duties from this moment.
So who is Ekaterini Sakylaropoulou, the first possible president of Greece?
Sakylaropoulou was born in Thessaloniki in 1956 and completed her studies at the University of Athens Law School in 1978.
She completed her legal training while on leave of absence from the duties of the State Council (Supreme Court of Greece) at the Sorbonne University of Paris II University between 1989 and 1990.
She was promoted to President of the Council of State in October of 2018, which was proposed by the administration of the ruling left-wing Syriza party at the time.
She has extensive teaching experience, as well as a counselor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Education, and as an officer in the Judges Syndicate.
She has long served as President of the Greek Society of Environmental Law since 2015, and has actively worked on major issues involving the environment, including diverting the Achilles River in Thessaly and preserving historical refugee buildings in Athens.
Sakylaropoulou has written many blocks, and she speaks English and French fluently.
Regarding her personal life, Sakylaropoulou is a divorced and mother of her child, and she lives in the center of Athens.