Dear United Nations, It's Time For A Woman

The UN Secretary-General plays a crucial role in tackling global challenges and improving the lives of seven billion people- half of which as women, last time I checked. There have been 8 Male Secretary Generals, it's time for a woman!

 "The movement for equality means ensuring that we send a strong message from the top...Women's rights are in jeopardy globally, but a female [secretary general] would be important part of a global solution." - Antonia Kirkland, Equality Now's legal advisor. 

The Secretary General post rotates so that each region gets its "turn". Thus far there have been 3 Europeans, 2 Africans, 2 Asians and 1 Latin America, all of them men. In the 70 year history of the UN, women have never had their "turn" in the seat as Secretary General, despite there being numerous highly qualified candidates from every region of the world. Equality Now has nominated 14 outstanding, qualified women, which you can review here.

The UN Security Council is responsible for nominating a Security General to the General Assembly. None of its five permanent members—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—has signed the document stating that “the time has come for a woman to hold the [U.N.’s] highest position,” according to the AP. The process for selecting a Secretary General is traditionally done behind closed door, and the criteria for recommendations is unknown. There is no reporting on the process, not even an announcement of candidates. Improvements needs to be made on this outdated, secretive process. A fair and transparent nomination process needs to be adopted and gender equality needs to become a fundamental consideration.

The current Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has put women's empowerment at the top of his global agenda since he first took office in 2007. He pressed for the creation of UN Women and has supported and urged the creation of numerous other women's rights campaigns and initiatives, including the "Unite to End Violence against Women" campaign, the "Stop Rape Now" initiative, the creation of a "Network of Men Leaders" and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in ConflictMoon has also increased the number of women in senior positions within the UN by 40%, the highest percentage in UN history. 

Ban's second term is coming to a close and a new Secretary General will be appointed in 2016. Nearly a quarter of the UN member states are urging the UN to elect a woman to succeed Ban as the ninth Secretary General. 42 countries have signed on to declare that "the time has come for a woman to hold the highest position."

At the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, 189 governments adopted the Platform For Action. which called for the development of “mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations”. The target date for “overall gender equality, particularly at the Professional level and above.” was set to the year 2000. The UN has still not reached this goal, now 15 years later. In fact, according the UN Women, only 24.6% of the highest positions at the UN have been filled by women in the past 10 years. The upcoming election for Secretary General is an impactful and important opportunity to implement the commitments made in Beijing.  

For decades the UN has preached about equal rights for women. The UN charter calls for gender equality and respecting women's rights. It's time they make good on their promises and live up to their own proposals and have a woman as the world's next Secretary General. 

You can help!
Click here to easily send letters online to important officials through Equality Now. You can send a bunch of letters with just one click!!

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