Time for a Woman: United Nations it’s been over 70 years, elect a female Secretary-General

Printer-friendly versionSend to friend
Date: 
21 Apr 2015

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

 

25 May Update: Great news! With Susana Malcorra of Argentina entering the race, we're back at 50% for women Secretary-Genderal candidates. Today is the last day to submit questions for the candidates for the next round of UN meetings with them on 7 June. Please send in your questions and ask about gender equality!  #TimeforaWomanSG

15 April Update: The first ever public dialogues with the candidates were a great success! All the current candidates participated, responding to a broad range of questions from Member States and civil society. We were proud to be a member of the Civil Society Committee which provided questions, including on human rights and gender equality, for the three-day forum.

Please continue to take action so that States continue to nominate women and that the process remains open. Thank you!


6 APRIL 2016 UPDATE: Double history in the making! Half of the current Secretary-General candidates are women, and, for the first time ever, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) will hold informal public forums between Member States and the candidates (12 - 14 April) in the UN. This is a huge step towards a fairer transparent process, and remarkably, the forums are open to civil society and being webcast. We are thrilled to see our efforts, along with the 1 for 7 Billion coalition (Equality Now is a member) and WomenSG, paying off, and we are taking an active role in the forums. The United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK) and The Guardian are also holding public debates in April and June.

The current PGA, Mogens Lykketoft, has been a strong advocate and is really following through on his promise to elevate this issue. However, though 50% of the candidates are currently women, that could easily change before this autumn’s expected vote. The Security Council ultimately holds the power to decide on the final candidate(s). Now is the time to push them to continue to nominate women and maintain the hard fought progress for clear and open procedures. Please Take Action and keep spreading the word! It’s past #TimeforaWomanSG to lead the UN!

The Guardian and Women in the World/New York Times noted Equality Now's popular campaign in a recent article on women candidates. Read it here.


22 FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE:  30,000+ letters have been sent in our campaign to elect a woman Secretary-General and your voices are being heard. On 19 February, Moldova officially nominated Natalia Gherman, which means that half of the current official nominees are women! With just a few months left for governments to nominate candidates, please continue to Take Action to make sure this trend continues. Thank you for your support!


1 FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE: With all your support, and with our partners, we have elevated the importance of electing a woman Secretary-General at the highest levels of the UN. So far three candidates have been officially and publicly nominated to succeed Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and one of them is a woman -- historic news for the 71 year old organization which has never had a female leader. It’s been encouraging to see steps towards a more transparent nomination process, including possible open meetings with candidates in April, and the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council urging countries to nominate female candidates before the Security Council begins deliberations in July. But, our work is far from over.

One nominee is not enough! The names of potential women candidates are being discussed (mainly in the halls of the UN), and we still need your help in targeting the new membership of the UN Security Council to maintain the momentum we built last year. This year, we must ensure that qualified female candidates are officially nominated and the best woman wins the position! Five new members have rotated onto the Security Council, so with just a few months to go until the election, the time to act is now!


16 DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE:  Exciting news! On 15 December, the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council issued a historic joint letter to all Member States urging them to nominate women for the UN Secretary-General position, following a 17 November request sent by Equality Now and other 1 for 7 billion coalition members. The Presidents’ joint letter  states, “Convinced of the need to guarantee equal opportunities for women and men in gaining access to senior decision-making positions, Member States are encouraged to consider presenting women, as well as men, as candidates for the position of Secretary-General.”  The letter also declares that, for the first time, there will be informal dialogues or meetings organized by the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council with candidates.

Please continue to press the Security Council members to support the long overdue election of a woman Secretary-General and to implement the transparent nomination procedures outlined in the joint letter and the September resolution.


25 SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE: On 11 September, the UN General Assembly adopted a progressive resolution on the selection of the Secretary-General, including by specifically inviting Member States to nominate women for the position. This is a promising step, but we need the UN Security Council to unite behind this position as well.

Please continue to Take Action by calling on the Security Council members to support the long overdue election of a woman Secretary-General and implement transparent nomination procedures outlined in the resolution.


17 AUGUST 2015 UPDATE: In July, the Ambassador of Colombia to the United Nations alerted us about the “Group of Friends in favor of a Woman for Secretary-General of the United Nations,” an advocacy group initiated by Colombia. This is the first time UN member states – more than 40 already -- have come together to promote a woman Secretary-General and we are thrilled that they are committed to the cause. “It is time to ensure equal consideration of all candidates both men and women, and in such context, the chance for a woman to lead the path at the United Nations,” stated Ambassador María Emma Mejía in a letter to Equality Now.

The final resolution will be adopted in September -- please continue to Take Action by calling on the Security Council members to support the long overdue election of a woman Secretary-General and implement transparent nomination procedures.


9 JUNE 2015 UPDATE: On 10 June, the UN General Assembly will start discussing the first draft of the resolution which will outline the selection process for the next Secretary-General.  Following the start of our campaign, and nearly 20,000 letters sent to key decision-makers, two-thirds of the participating Member States highlighted the importance of including gender equality as a key selection process component at the 27 April UN debate on the subject. We therefore welcomed the news that the draft resolution calls for both a more transparent and inclusive process,and"[s]tressesthe need to ensure equal and fair distribution based on gender …, while meeting the highest possible requirements on the appointment of executive heads of the Organization.”

The final resolution will be adopted in September, so please help keep up the momentum to elect the first woman Secretary-General and for a more transparent nomination process!


In the 70 years since the United Nations (UN) was founded, there has never been a woman Secretary-General despite there being numerous qualified candidates from all regions of the world (see examples). Traditionally, the Secretary-General post rotates so that each geographical region gets its “turn.” However, women have never had a “turn.” And, throughout the ranks of the UN, women are also underrepresented. For the past decade, according to UN Women, only 24.6% of the highest positions at the organization have been filled by women.

In 2016, a new United Nations Secretary-General will be selected and the UN Security Council is responsible for recommending a candidate to the General Assembly. The rules governing the selection process will be adopted in September 2015. As pointed out by the 1 for 7 billion campaign to “find the best UN leader,” of which Equality Now is a member, past nomination procedures have taken place behind closed doors and the specific criteria for recommendations is unknown. It is important that going forward, the UN adopts a transparent, meaningful nomination process and that gender equality is included as a fundamental consideration. This would be in keeping with the UN’s own pledge given 20 years ago.

At the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in Beijing, 189 governments called for the development of “mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations”. 2000 was set as the target date for “overall gender equality, particularly at the Professional level and above.” It is 2015, and the UN has still not reached this goal. Achieving gender equality, development and global peace, will never be realized without women’s equal access to positions of decision-making power and a clear process to get there. The upcoming selection of the next UN Secretary-General is a perfect opportunity to implement the commitment made in Beijing. There is no reason a suitable female candidate should not be appointed as Secretary-General in 2016.

Equality Now presents here a list of women whose qualifications as members of the Secretary-General’s senior management team (as of 15 April 2015), give them relevant experience for the job of Secretary-General, in addition to the female heads of state, female foreign ministers and female finance ministers serving at the highest levels of government around the world.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Right now there is an opportunity to make equality a reality at the highest global levels. Please join our campaign for a woman UN Secretary-General in 2016 and help spread the word. Take Action today!

  • Please call on the permanent and rotating UN Security Council member states below, and their corresponding Secretary of State/ Foreign Affairs Ministers, to support the election of a woman Secretary-General and to adopt more transparent nomination procedures
  • Spread the message: "It’s past #TimeforaWomanSG to lead the UN! Take Action w/@equalitynow: http://tinyurl.com/p769zve #UNSG #She4SG #1for7billion". Tweet at the targets below and follow and share messages from our Twitter and Facebook

Permanent Security Council Member States’ Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers:

  • China:
    • H.E. LIU Jieyi, Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the UN, 350 E. 35th Street, New York, NY 10016, USA; Email: chinamission_un@mfa.gov.cn; chinesemission@yahoo.com
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, No. 2, Chaoyangment Nandajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701, CHINA; E-Mail: webmaster@mfa.gov.cn
  • France:
  • Russia:
    • H.E. Vitaly Churkin Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN, 36 East 67 Street, New York, NY 10065, USA; E-mail: press@russiaun.ru; Twitter: @RussiaUN
    • Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, 32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 119200, Moscow G-200, RUSSIA; E-mail: dip@mid.ru; Twitter: @RussiaMFA
  • United Kingdom:
    • H.E. Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN, One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 885 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA; E-mail: uk@un.int; Twitter: @UKUN_NewYork
    • Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, SW1A2AH, UNITED KINGDOM, E-mail: fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk; Twitter: @PHammondMP
  • United States:
    • H.E. Samantha Power, Permanent Mission of the United States to the UN, 799 United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017, E-mail: USUNPolFax@state.gov, Twitter: @AmbassadorPower and @USUN
    • Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520, UNITED STATES; E-mail form: https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform; Twitter: @JohnKerry

Rotating Security Council members (2016):

Letters: 

Dear Ambassador,

I urge you, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, to actively support the nomination and election of a woman as the next United Nations Secretary-General, as called for by the Presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly in December 2015.

In the over 70-year history of the United Nations, there has never been a woman Secretary-General and a transparent and fair procedure must be put in place for women to be seriously considered for the top post. The Platform for Action, adopted by 189 governments in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, calls for the development of “mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations”. The upcoming election of the Secretary-General is an opportunity to implement the commitment made in Beijing in a significant way.

I urge you to champion the candidacy of qualified women candidates, as well as a transparent, meaningful nominations procedure. There is no reason a female candidate should not be appointed as Secretary-General in 2016.

Respectfully yours,

Dear Secretary/Minister,

As a member of the United Nations Security Council, I urge you to actively support the election of a woman as the next United Nations Secretary-General.

There has never been a woman Secretary-General in the over 70-year history of the United Nations and a transparent and fair procedure must be put in place for women to be seriously considered for the top post. The Platform for Action, adopted by 189 governments in 1995 at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, calls for the development of “mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations”. The upcoming election of the Secretary-General is an opportunity to implement the commitment made in Beijing in a significant way.

I urge you to take a leadership role in promoting and supporting the candidacy of women candidates, as well as a transparent, meaningful nominations procedure.

Respectfully yours,