Global: It's past time for a woman UN Secretary-General! - Equality Now

Global: It's past time for a woman UN Secretary-General!

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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. 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.