Biography of Barbara Woodward: the current Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations
Dame Barbara Janet Woodward DCMG OBE is a British diplomat and China expert who was born on May 29, 1961. She is the United Kingdom’s current Permanent Representative to the United Nations, having previously served as the first female British Ambassador to China from 2015 until 2020.
Woodward studied international relations at Yale University after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She started working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1994 and has since worked in China, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations.
Barbara Janet Woodward was born on May 29, 1961, in Gipping, Suffolk, England, to Arthur Claude Woodward (1921–1992) and Rosemary Monica Gabrielle Fenton. Her father was a member of the Suffolk Regiment during WWII and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.
Later, he was elected to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors as a Fellow (FRICS). Barbara Woodward attended South Lee School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and subsequently Saint Felix School in Southwold, Suffolk, a co-educational, boarding independent school.
In 1979, Woodward was accepted to the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he studied history. Her undergraduate Master of Arts (MA Hons) degree was awarded to her in 1983.
Between 1986 and 1988, she taught English in Wuhan, China, first at Nankai University and subsequently at Hubei University. She went on to learn and perfect Chinese.
Wu Baina was the Chinese name given to her by a teacher in London. She continued her studies in international relations at Yale University in the United States in 1988, earning a postgraduate Master of Arts (MA) degree.
In 1994, Woodward began working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
She worked in Russia as a Second (and later First) Secretary from 1994 to 1998, and in China from 2003 to 2009, first as a Political Counsellor, then as Deputy Head of Mission for the entire UK-China partnership, including during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
She was Director-General for Economic and Consular Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 2011 until 2015.
She became the first woman to be named British Ambassador to China in February 2015. Caroline Wilson took over as her successor in September 2020.
During an event at Lancaster House in London in 2015, Queen Elizabeth II told Lucy D’Orsi that Chinese officials “were quite nasty to the ambassador” (referring to Woodward).
In 2020, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab appointed Woodward as the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Sports are among Woodward’s favorite pastimes, particularly competitive swimming and tennis. She is a member of London’s Otter Swimming Club, where she formerly served as Honorary Secretary.
When she was serving as the First Secretary to Moscow, Queen Elizabeth II included Woodward in the 1999 New Year Honours list and appointed her an Officer of the British Empire.
She was appointed a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for services to UK-China relations in the 2011 Birthday Honours.
She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for services to UK-China relations in the 2016 Birthday Honours. Read More…