Will A Woman UN Secretary-General Replace Ban Ki-Moon? Fingers Crossed — Here Who's In The Running
The demand for female leaders seems to be at an all-time high; concerted efforts by a number of campaigns pushing the election of a woman U.N. chief looks set to advance amid the chatter surrounding Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's successor. A new head of the intergovernmental body is expected to be chosen late next year, ahead of the conclusion of Ban's term on Dec. 31, 2016.
In the course of the U.N.'s 70-year existence, only three female candidates have been considered in the Security Council's closed-door votes and straw polls, the Associated Press reported. The General Assembly is expected to make the appointment on the recommendation of the Security Council later next year, though there is no official deadline. Jean Krasno, a Yale lecturer leading the new Campaign to Elect a Woman Secretary-General, told the news wire:
There have been eight men and no women. To me, it's time.
On Sunday, Krasno's campaign will launch WomenSG.org, a website featuring some one dozen women it holds to be "outstanding possible candidates" with political backgrounds, with the list set to grow every few weeks. And next month, international women's rights group Equality Now will introduce a similar campaign called "Time for a Woman," while advocating for public pressure on the U.N. and its member states to take gender balance into serious consideration, reported AP.
Among the potential contenders are some of the world's formidable female leaders:
- Helen Clark, administrator of the U.N. Development Program and former New Zealand prime minister
- Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources
- Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite (one of Russia's most vocal critics for the Ukraine crisis)
- Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt
- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who formerly served as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
- UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova is a current favorite, having already been nominated for the position by her native Bulgaria.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel — reports of her stepping down ahead of the elections in 2017 have fueled rumors of her U.N. Secretary-General ambitions — and Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, are also hopeful candidates, though Lagarde's candidacy would be a long shot because individuals from any one of the Security Council's permanent member states are typically not considered.
There are currently only 24 female heads of state and government altogether, and a mere quarter of the U.N. Secretariat's most senior positions are filled by women. Speaking to AP on Friday, current Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that if the next secretary-general were a woman, it would (aptly):
Be a cherry on top.
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