Why a woman leader of the UN?


past UN Secretarys-Generals-800Despite being more adversely affected by the impact of war, women continue to be underrepresented in peace talks and international diplomacy. Fifteen years ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed a resolution that urged member states and the UN itself to increase women’s participation in all decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes. However, between 1992 and 2011, only 9% of participants at peace talks were women.


UN General AssemblyThe UN recognises that women’s participation is essential to preventing conflict and building peace. Research into recent peace deals shows that:

“peace processes that included women as witnesses, signatories, mediators, and/or negotiators demonstrated a 20% increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years. This increases over time, with a 35% increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years.”


female UN diplomats The UN Secretary­-General is the most high-­profile and most influential diplomat in the world. The leader acts as the spokesperson for the UN and has an pivotal role in conflict prevention and resolution. Later this year, a new Secretary­-General will be elected by the UN’s member states. Leaders can serve two consecutive 5­-year terms, meaning that if a women is not elected this time, the next opportunity may not be until 2026.

The UN has a responsibility to promote gender equality in its work. If there are no credible woman candidates for the role of Secretary-­General, we have ask serious questions about how effectively the UN is carrying out its responsibilities to women. From Argentina to Ukraine, Bangladesh to Burundi, Peru to Poland, women have been elected as presidents and prime ministers on every continent. It is time that the United Nations caught up with the democratic world and elected its first woman leader.

Men can look at the previous leaders of the UN and say to themselves there has been a UN Secretary­-General like me, it’s time that women are be able to do the same.