HomeLearning CenterUnited Nations Should Be ‘Ashamed’ That A Woman Has Never Been Elected Secretary-General, Says Former President

United Nations Should Be ‘Ashamed’ That A Woman Has Never Been Elected Secretary-General, Says Former President

In sharply worded comments, Abdulla Shahid, who just served as president of the 76th United Nations General Assembly, said it’s high time for a woman to be elected secretary-general.

“After 70 years, we should be ashamed,” said Shahid. In its storied 77-year history, the UN has never elected a woman as secretary-general. In 2016, seven women ran to be the next secretary-general, but member-states ultimately elected Portugal’s António Guterres.

Ahead of the high-level week at the UN, Shahid, who will continue in his role as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, took time to reflect on his term and on the lack of women leaders at the UN. He was adamant that the UN should elect a woman as secretary-general.

One of the first things he noticed during his tenure was how women leaders were vastly underrepresented during the General Assembly, which is taking place this week in New York. Just 14 out of 198 speakers attending in 2021 were women, he recalled, and only a handful led countries.

“I thought it was shameful,” he said. “If we can’t find one single woman in seven decades to lead the agency, I think there is absolutely something wrong.”

During his term from 2021 to 2022, Shahid traveled the world, dealing with the organization’s latest crises, including the war in Ukraine. As he returns to his home country, the Maldives, he intends to use his international influence to raise this issue.

Several women are rumored to be contenders for the next UN secretary-general, especially in the Latin American region, including Brazil’s former president and former UN human rights high commissioner Michelle Bachelet, former president of the General Assembly Maria Espinosa of Ecuador, and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.


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