[NOW Action List] Next U.N. Secretary-General Should be a Woman
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NOW Action Alert
Support NOW's Work | September 19, 2006 | Tell a Friend

Action Needed


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Urge Election of Woman as Next United Nations Secretary-General

Action Needed:

As Secretary-General Kofi Annan's term nears an end, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council will vote for a new Secretary-General in December. In the 61 years since the U.N. was founded, no woman has ever held the position of Secretary-General, despite many qualified women candidates.

Please join us in urging the U.S. to uphold their promised commitments to women's equality by electing one of the many qualified female candidates to take the seat as the next Secretary-General. The time for a woman to fill the post is long past due. Let members of the Security Council know that the you believe that a woman Secretary-General can better carry out many of the United Nations' critically important missions, including safeguarding human rights around the globe.

Take Action: Write to the U.N. Security Council


Traditionally, the selection of the U.N. Secretary-General considers geographic rotation, so that each region has an opportunity to be represented. In the history of the U.N., one Asian, one Latin American, two Africans, and three Europeans have served as Secretary-General; but no woman from any region has been seriously considered. This reflects poorly on the UN's commitment to gender equality.

A significant gender gap exists within the United Nations, beyond just the position of Secretary-General. As of June 2005, women occupied only 37% of professional and higher level positions, and only 15% of the Under-Secretaries-General are women. At the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, governments called for the development of "mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations," and set the target of "overall gender equality, particularly at the professional level and above, by the year 2000." More than ten years later, and six years after the target date, no such mechanism has been developed, and women remain dramatically underrepresented in positions of authority.

Every year, the General Assembly adopts a resolution on the "Improvement of the Status of Women in the Secretariat," lamenting the lack of progress and calling for the achievement of gender balance in staffing. Yet, every year, the U.N. fails to fulfill its goals and promises of having more women in leadership positions and serving on the U.N. staff. This upcoming election for a new Secretary-General provides an opportunity for the U.N. to begin to fully implement its commitment to women's equality.

Take Action: Write to the U.N. Security Council

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