Since the UN was established 70 years ago, only men have been at the helm of her affairs.
Ban Ki-moon is nearing the end of his second five-year term and he posits that after 8 men have been the UN secretary general, it is now the turn for a woman.
The decision is however not up to him, a point that he stressed when he said that the 15-member security council must recommend a candidate to the 193-member general assembly, who will then approve the candidate of their choice.
There are currently 11 candidates vying for the position, 6 of who are men and five women. The UN secretary general was speaking during a visit to the home of 99-year-old Libba Patterson in Novato, California, where he spent his first days in the United States as an 18-year-old student from South Korea.
He pointed out that “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,” stating that there is no reason why it should not also be so in the United Nations.
Without giving any names, he said there were “many distinguished, motivated women leaders who can really change this world, who can actively engage with the other leaders of the world”.
The security council has held two informal polls in which 12 candidates participated, and in each of the polls, the woman who got the most votes was in third place. Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has also headed the UN refugee agency, topped both polls.
The five women who are vying for the position are;
- Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, who heads Unesco (she came in third in the first straw polls)
- Susana Malcorra; Argentina’s foreign minister and Ban Ki-moon’s former chief of staff
- Helen Clark; New Zealand’s former prime minister who heads the UN Development Programme
- Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica; UN official who played a key role in shaping last December’s historic agreement to fight climate change
- Natalia Gherman; former Moldovan foreign minister
A group of 56 nations are campaigning for the first female UN chief. The security council has scheduled another “straw” poll on 29 August and at least one, possibly two, are expected to be held in September.