We Remember: Turkey’s trailblazing diplomat Filiz Dinçmen

Today, 24 July, Filiz Dinçmen – Turkey’s first female Turkish ambassador – turns 80. She made history when she was appointed to The Netherlands in 1982, serving at the Turkish Embassy in The Hague for two years.

For her last diplomatic mission, Dinçmen again broke new ground when she became the first female Muslim ambassador to the Holy See in 2001. During her three-year term as head of mission at  Vatican City State, she became known as ‘the enlightened face of Turkey’.

When she started her career in 1961, there was just a handful of female staff among Foreign Ministry officials in Ankara. Dinçmen’s climb up the career ladder inspired other women to join the Ministry and paved the way for many female diplomats to follow in her footsteps.

She was an ardent believer that Turkey would not progress without the contribution of women. She initially worked on the United Nations (UN) Desk in Ankara, and her first foreign posting was to the UN New York City Permanent Mission in 1965. Postings at the Tehran Embassy (1968-1970) and the Permanent Mission to the Common Market (1972-1976), later the European Union, followed.

After The Hague, Dinçmen became Ambassador to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (1984-1988), then Turkish Ambassador in Vienna (1993-1997). She also held several senior roles in Ankara, rising to become the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s first female deputy under-secretary in 1988.