It is “high time” for a female Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN). That’s the opinion of the current incumbent, Ban Ki-moon.
As Ban Ki-moon approaches the end of his second five-year term as Secretary-General of the United Nations, 11 candidates are in the running to succeed him. Five of them are women.
According to Mr. Ban, the UN is due for a female Secretary-General after seven decades and eight male leaders.
The Secretary-General however stressed that the decision was not down to him, but to the 15-member Security Council, which must recommend a candidate to the 193-member General Assembly for its approval.
Below are the profiles of five women who could end up leading the UN, as culled from the website of the World Economic Forum.
Irina Bokova, Bulgaria
Director-General of UNESCO
Fluent in four of the six official languages of the United Nations and twice elected Director-General of UNESCO by the direct vote of member states, Irina Bokova has solid UN credentials.
Ms Bokova says she wants to see a “more efficient UN.”
Helen Clark, New Zealand
Head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
Helen Clark has headed UNDP since 2009, the first woman to lead the organization. Prior to that she served three terms as Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999-2008.
Ms Clark says “a strong and relevant UN is one which is flexible, practical, and effective.”
Christiana Figueres, Costa Rica
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010–2016)
Figueres is widely credited with helping to re-energize global climate action after the disastrous failure of the 2009 Copenhagen meeting which failed to reach the accord that was finally struck in Paris in 2015.
If she wins, she has vowed to deliver a new model of “collaborative diplomacy”.
Natalia Gherman, Moldova
Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova (2013–2016)
A career diplomat, Ms Gherman served as Moldova’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration and Deputy Prime Minister.
Ms Gherman speaks four languages and was the Chief Negotiator on behalf of Moldova for the Moldova-European Union Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina
The current foreign minister of Argentina, Ms Malcorra had previously been Chef de Cabinet to the Executive Office at the United Nations, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Another speaker of four languages, Ms Malcorra worked at IBM before becoming president of Telecom Argentina.