Maria Zakharova is a diplomat, head of Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. She enters top 100 the most powerful women in the world according to the BBC. She has won many prizes including the Certificate of Merit from Russia’s president. Maria is a role model for many women because she unites amazing feminity and phenomenal firmness. 

Maria Zakharova often highlights that she is a civil servant. It is very important for her to break the moulds about civil servants. Her task is to show the different shade of what ‘civil servant’ is. They are people that first of all strive to make the life of citizens better. She told about her coming into profession, shared secrets of success, and talked about role of women in the modern society. 


Foreign office is a destiny 

Maria’s father was a diplomat and orientalist. Her mother was fond of art criticism. Her parents’ love to what they did influenced Maria’s choice of the profession. She wanted to be the diplomat from the very childhood. However, her parents were not sure that sphere suited women. In the Soviet Union almost all diplomats were men. Moreover, it was always interesting for Maria to observe international journalists’ work and she decided to become a sinologist in the Ministry. The parents advised her to choose profession that was more ‘woman’s’ but she firmly decided to achieve her goals. 

Maria studied at secondary school in Beijing. She convinced her parents that she needed courses of Chinese language yet they were expensive. The future diplomat structured her life so as she could acquire maximum knowledge and skills in the necessary sphere. 

The middle 1990s were the time of rapidly developing capitalism. Many young men chose business instead of higher education. The girls got an opportunity to take their seats in universities. Thus, Maria entered the Faculty of International Journalism with a degree in Oriental Studies and Journalism. She chose Chinese as foreign language there. 

However, when Maria came to the Foreign Office to get a job of orientalist, she learned that there were no vacant places. She remembers that her world fell apart then. “I could give up and say that there was no justice. It was a difficult decision for me but I decided that I would work in the office they suggested to me. It was connected with the international information. However, I didn’t betray my interests and left all topics connected with China for my scientific research. Now, as older person, I understand that the destiny led me to the Foreign Office. 


Creativity, self-control, and self-development 

Maria tries to combine in her activities what her parents did: diplomacy, journalism, information management, and creativity that is connected with art and culture. 

She is sure that a person can’t do much without creativity whatever they do. The professional must not only execute orders but also integrate something into work and create. However, Maria mentioned that it is important to understand which tasks require a traditional approach and which require an ingenious one. 

Besides, the creativity often helps people express themselves. Maria seldom writes rhymes and songs. “The creativity is emotions you can’t help sharing. My job requires facts, clear position, and argumentation, so there in no room for emotions in my profession. However, I think we should not keep them down”, said Maria. 


Self-control is another one important component of success in profession. People often ask Maria how she manages to stay firm and objective while reporting. “It is an issue of respect for the audience you are communicating with. It doesn’t matter what emotions fulfil you. You should always remember that you are speaking with people: journalists, students, and others that want to get information. It means that you must present this information objectively”. Maria thinks that we must divide our personal life from professional one. The person doesn’t need to keep emotions down but the professional has to do it. 

According to Maria Zakharova, specialist must pay much attention to self-development. It is important to love what you do. That is a way to not only do your job well but also motivate other people to do it. “Slave labour is unproductive. Only things you do sincerely can be of high quality. And here we come again to the topic of creativity. It allows to realise the potential, discover interesting and ingenious facets even in routine issues”, thinks Maria. 


We are stronger than we think 

Will power and call of duty make Maria always move forward and never give up. People motivate her by asking to continue what she does because it is important for them. “I got second breath when look in their eyes even if I am tired to death”, explains Maria. People like and respect Maria for her transparency, sincerity, and sympathy for other people’s problems. In return, she is grateful to those who appreciate her activity. 

Maria Zakharova is a very strong woman. She makes every effort to help those who need it. She motivates and inspires many people. Maria is sure that everyone has an inner strength: “Many situations that happened in my life prove that people are usually unaware of their capabilities. Sometimes we think we did everything possible and sincerely believe in it. However, then new circumstances appear. They make us look at the problem from a different angle, forget the obstacles, and solve the problem that seemed insurmountable. 


Firmness and feminity 

Maria says that it was always important for her to be taken as professional. She wanted to be a person who knows her job well, may make mistakes but still wants to learn and develop. She is sure that work must not prevent women from being tender and sensitive. 

She had once to choose between career and family. “I answered to myself in such a way: I should not create fictional problems. Life is difficult enough and we shouldn’t complicate it more. It is not necessary to collide some things. You can make a good career and be a happy mother and wife at the same time. Don’t limit yourself for it is the worst you can do. It is important to remember that inner freedom is the most valuable thing in our life”, thinks Maria Zakharova. 

Modern women 

Journalists of the Eurasian Women’s Community discussed the role of modern women in the society with Maria Zakharova. According to the diplomat, women in modern Russia can realise their potential in several spheres simultaneously. For example, they don’t need to have a baby first before making a career. 

Moreover, modern Russian women have many opportunities: they can drive cars, receive good education, and get an interesting job. Nobody orders them how to live or what to do. We must appreciate that. 

Maria herself is a bright example of a wonderful woman who not only combines career and taking care of close people but also pays much attention to those who need her help. She inspires people with her kindness, transparency, wisdom, and diligence. 

Maria Zakharova will participate in the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. She is sure that people must discuss issues they consider topical. Moreover, people should discuss them openly and freely, share professional opinions, and together solve the problems. The EWF is an effective ground for such deeds. 

Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Yan Zarubin