IHEYO urges the UN to consider a qualified women candidate as their next General Secretary

  • post Type / Young Humanists International
  • Date / 6 May 2006

The Next United Nations Secretary-General: Time for a Woman – 1945-2006: 3 Europeans, 2 Africans, 1 Latin American, 1 Asian, 0 Women

IHEYO wrote to the missions of the UN members of the Security Council to urge them to consider recommending a qualified women candidate for the post of the next General Secretary of the UN, now taken by Kofi Annan.

Equality Now set up an international campaign for this, in which you can join: http://www.equalitynow.org/english/actions/action_1102_en.html

The letter written by IHEYO

To: the missions to the United Nations members of the Security Council in New York, USA
March 2006 , Belgium

In the sixty years since the United Nations was founded, no woman has ever been elected to serve as Secretary-General, despite the fact that there are many qualified candidates. Women are underrepresented in the ranks of the organization, as well as at the top. As of 30 June 2005, women occupied only 37.1% of professional and higher positions and only 16.2% of the Under-Secretaries General were women. Women’s unequal access to positions of decision-making power around the world hinders progress toward all the United Nations’ goals, including equality, development and peace.

The election of a new United Nations Secretary-General will take place in 2006, when the term of current Secretary-General Kofi Annan comes to an end. Tradition has it that the post of Secretary-General should rotate so that each geographical region gets its “turn.” Women have never had a “turn,” and there are many qualified women from all regions of the world who could serve as Secretary-General.

We urge you to consider recommending a qualified women candidate and support the election of a woman to the post of Secretary-General.

As you know, the Platform for Action adopted in 1995 in Beijing at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women 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.” Yet ten years after the Beijing conference and five years after the target date, the United Nations is nowhere near the established goal, and there is no indication that a woman has ever been considered for the top post. No mechanism for such consideration has been developed.

Every year the General Assembly adopts a resolution on the “Improvement of the Status of Women in the Secretariat,” lamenting the lack of progress that has been made and calling for the achievement of gender balance in the staffing of the Secretariat. The upcoming election of a new UN Secretary-General is an opportunity to implement the commitment made in Beijing in a meaningful way.

IHEYO is the international umbrella organisation for youth groups (up to the age of 35) around the world that work on humanist principles, like humanist, freethinker, sceptic, rationalist, atheist, laique, agnostic groups and organisation with a related philosophy but working in a specific field. We write to you on behalf of our organisation.

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