Maria Witteveen (1904-1991) started her international career in 1931 at the League of Nations Secretariat in Geneva. From there she was appointed secretary to the Netherlands delegation to the First General Assembly of the UN which met in London in January 1946. This provided Maria with an opening into diplomacy and she joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the following year as Counsellor to the Netherlands representation at the UN in New York. Despite an atmosphere that was unfriendly to women, she managed to obtain a permanent footing among Dutch diplomats, evidenced in a posting to Moscow in 1953 and then promotion to become Permanent Representative at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1956. Maria left this post in 1963, not to be re-posted until her retirement from the Dutch foreign service in 1969.