Never Learn to TypeA Woman at the United Nations
A fascinating account of a remarkable life that took the author, through hard work and determination, from rural England to the highest ranks of the United Nations Dame Margaret Anstee was born in the 1920s to a poor family in rural Essex. With the support of her parents and through her own determination, she graduated from Cambridge with first class honours, and entered the Foreign Office where she worked with the spy Donald Maclean shortly before his defection with Guy Burgess. Her career here ended as was customary at the time, when she married a diplomat and was posted to Singapore. As the marriage began to fail Margaret accepted a job at the United Nations in order to earn her fare back to England. It was the start of a career that was to push the boundaries at every step. She became the first woman to be posted to her beloved South America, where she drove through the Andes in her VW Beetle, she headed up the first Government think tank during Harold Wilson’s Government and she was the first woman to break the glass ceiling at the United Nations. Dame Margaret Anstee served the United Nations for four decades, both at the New York Headquarters and in some of the poorest countries of the world attempting to help the victims of war, poverty and natural disasters. Throughout this time Dame Margaret has worked relentlessly to overcome the inequalities between the developed and developing world, a battle that she considers essential for the survival of both worlds. The first and only woman ever to reach this powerful position within the United Nations. Exciting, insightful and, on occasion humorous, travel writing as the author journeys through South America, Africa and the Far East. Charming account of village life and that of a young academic in Cambridge in the 1930s and 1940s. Gives an insight into the workings of the United Nations and the challenges faced both in conflict resolution and health and education programs. Features lively and amusing anecdotes with a cast of characters that includes many of the world’s leaders, from Che Guevara to Margaret Thatcher as well as special appearances by MI6 and the CIA, set against a global backdrop. Praise for Never Learn to Type: "Her achievements are truly inspirational."—The Rt Hon. Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs "The preamble of the UN Charter announces the commitment... to... reaffirm the faith in the fundamental dignity and worth of the human person.... No one has lived for these principles more selflessly or diligently than Margaret Anstee. Her life... is inspirational, and her story is highly recommended."—Jimmy Carter, Former President of the United States of America (awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2002) "...a true pioneer of the international community... an account of a rich and fascinating life, as well as the kind of insight only the insider can provide into the nature of conflict, development and the work for peace." —Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations "...a remarkable and entertaining account of her adventures in many parts of the world."—Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations "...she became, with all my support and pleasure, the first woman Under Secretary-General."—Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations "An extraordinary book about an extraordinary life.... A story written with wit, charm and affection.... Thank God she never learned to type but learned to think and care!—Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, President of Bolivia "A truly absorbing account of achievement and adventure, by a remarkable woman... she engages and holds the reader's
Dedication. The United Nations System. Preface. Map 1. Map 2. PART ONE. THE EARLY YEARS. 1. Prelude. 2. A Rural Childhood. 3. Wartime Schooldays. PART TWO: FRESH FIELDS AND PASTURES NEW. 4. The Groves of Academe. 5. The Foreign Office. 6. Land of the Morning. 7. English Interlude. PART THREE: FIELD MISSIONS IN THE NEW WORLD AND AFRICA. 8. The Athens of the Americas. 9. The Purple Land. 10. On Top of the World. 11. At the Court of the Lion of Judah. PART FOUR: INTERLUDE IN EUROPE. 12.10 Downing Street 1967-68. 13. UN Reform: The Study of the Capacity of the UN Development System, Geneva and New York 1968-70. PART FIVE: RETURN TO THE FIELD: MOROCCO AND CHILE. 14. In the Shadow of the Atlas. 15. Chile: Democracy Subverted. PART SIX: NEW YORK. 16. New York I: UNDP Headquarters 1974-78. 17. New York II: The Department of Technical Cooperation for Development (DTCD), 1978-87. 18. Special Missions and Thwarted Ambitions. PART SEVEN: VIENNA. 19. In Vienna Woods 1987-92. 20. Debt, Development, Democracy and Disasters. PART EIGHT: PEACE-KEEPING. 21. The Lands at the End of the World 1992-93. PART NINE: POSTSCRIPT. 22. Life After the United Nations. Epilogue. List of Acronyms. Index.
"…continues to leave her audiences breathless with intrigue." (Mid Wales Journal, August 2006)
Dame Margaret Anstee served the United Nations (UN) for over four decades (1952-93), and, in 1987, was the first woman to achieve the rank of Under Secretary-General. She worked on operational programmes of economic and social development in all regions of the world, mostly with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). From 1987-92 she served as Director-General of the UN at Vienna, Head of the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs and Co-ordinator of all UN narcotic drug control programmes. From 1992-3 she was the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Angola, the first woman to head a UN peacekeeping mission including its military component. Dame Margaret served successively as Resident Representative of UNDP in eight countries, in Asia, Latin America and Africa. From 1974-87 she occupied senior positions at UN headquarters in New York and was also given special responsibility for a number of disaster relief programmes, including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Mexican earthquake of 1985 and the Kuwait oil wells of 1991. From 1967-8 Dame Margaret served as Senior Economic Adviser to Harold Wilson in the Prime Minister's Office of the Government of the United Kingdom. Dame Margaret was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, of which she is an Honorary Fellow. She continues to work ad honorem for the UN and for the President and Government of Bolivia. Amongst other activities she is a member of Jimmy Carter's International Council for Conflict Resolution.
As a young girl growing up in rural England in the 1930s and 40s Margaret Anstee dreamed of travelling to far away places. She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Refusing to accept the traditional confines imposed on her class and sex she fought her way first to Newnham College, Cambridge and then to the Foreign Office, where she worked with Donald Maclean, at the time when he was uncovered as a Russian spy. In the Philippines, in difficult personal circumstances in the 1950s, she accepted a job at the United Nations. It was the start of a career that was to take her to all corners of the world, to break many of the restrictions previously imposed on women and to be at the heart of world affairs for nearly fifty years. Perhaps most importantly it was an opportunity to work tirelessly against the effects of war and poverty, a battle that she has never abandoned. The story of Margaret Anstee's life is one that includes many of the major events and figures of the twentieth century, from Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to Margaret Thatcher and President Gorbachev. It is also one of a far more personal nature: cycling through air raids, May balls, travel, romance, comic misunderstandings and strong personal conviction.
'As a leading international civil servant, Margaret Anstee has lived with the great themes of post-war history: poverty, conflict and the unending difficulty of limiting either. But she also writes of romance and travel, friendship and daily incident - even about making herself a ball-gown out of a parachute and dancing the night away!' Onora O'Neill, Principal, Newnham College, Cambridge 'An intelligent and courageous human being, Dame Margaret Anstee is also a wonderful writer. She vividly presents for us the adventures she has experienced, the battles she has won and lost, and the fascinating people she has encountered along the way.' Gerald J. Bender, Professor (and former Director), School of International Relations, University of Southern California, and former President of the African Studies Association 'What a life! She strode - and occasionally stumbled - across Development, the UN and the men in her life with a style, intelligence and curiosity reminiscent of those extraordinary Victorian women explorers. With a brief detour to Harold Wilson's Downing Street, her career was spent as Adviser and UN Representative in some of the world's most exotic, difficult and dangerous places. She is one of those redoubtable Englishwomen for whom England was always a size too small.' Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
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