Opinion Comment

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Hopes that a woman would get the top job at the UN are now beginning to fade

Irina Bokova, head of Unesco, is a candidate for the UN job
Irina Bokova, head of Unesco, is a candidate for the UN job

Mary Fitzgerald

Hopes that a woman might next lead the United Nations have been dealt a blow as the opaque process to elect a new secretary-general enters its final stages. Last month, incumbent Ban Ki-moon said it was "high time" for a woman take the helm of the UN for the first time since its foundation more than 70 years ago. His words heartened campaigners, including a group of 56 nations, that have been pushing for the next secretary-general to make history in this way.

"We have many distinguished and eminent women leaders in national governments or other organisations or even business communities, political communities and cultural and every aspect of our life," Ban said, adding: "There's no reason why not in the United Nations."

Many hoped a women would be selected in 2006 when Ban, then a South Korean diplomat, was chosen. As the race for the next secretary-general heated up earlier this year, initial signs suggested that it might happen this time, after eight men have held the position.

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