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Letter: In a woman's world

Sir: Well done to John Torode ('Women can run the world, too', 3 June) for pointing out that the Shirley Williamses and Lynda Chalkers of this world are ready, willing and able to take up hitherto male-held jobs such as the presidency of the European Commission. I do, however, disagree with his assertion that 'women would not bring a distinctive, feminine style to international affairs'.

From my own travels for Harvard University's Project Liberty (directed by Baroness Williams) in Central and Eastern Europe and a visit I made to the Serb-surrounded Bihac enclave 10 days ago (with great assistance from Baroness Chalker's Overseas Development Administration), I am certain they would - from Haiti to Algeria, Angola to Sudan. What has confused the picture is that women such as Margaret Thatcher and Jeane Kirkpatrick had to operate as men in a 'man's world'.

The problem lies in the scarcity of numbers of women at the top of organisations. As long as women have to work completely surrounded by male perceptions of the world, we will be operating in a different culture. The best political example would be Norway, with nearly half its Cabinet female. Didn't Norway have something to do with brokering the peace accord between Israel and the PLO?

Your sincerely,


Conock, Wiltshire