Eight Candidates for UN Women’s Post

Inner City Press‘s Matthew Russell Lee has noted that eight candidates have been nominated to head up the new UN Women agency, officially established today, and reports three names shared with it by a “well placed Mission.”  The agency, that will consolidate the work of four UN entities as of January 1, 2011, will be headed by an Under Secretary General.  The three named candidates for this USG post include,

  • Louise Mushikiwabo, Foreign Minister of Rwanda (bio)
  • Rachel Mayanja, Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (bio); and
  • Radhika Coomaraswamy, Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (bio)

In addition to these,  Lee reports that officials from Malaysia, Tunisia and Norway have also been nominated. Not among the candidates, according to Lee, is former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Not on the list is Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Some say she wanted UNICEF and is miffed. Others say she will only take it if offered: i.e., if it is not a competitive process. We’ll see. Watch this space.

A number of NGOs have pressed for the selection to be open and transparent soon after the General Assembly’s resolution on system-wide coherence from last September that included a call for the agency’s creation. AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization, sent UNSG Ban a letter that harshly criticized  selections made behind “closed doors”  or given to “UN insiders,” and even those women leaders currently at the UN.

…candidates must be selected through a global search and an open, fair, transparent process that pays particular attention to qualified candidates from developing countries. Preferential consideration should not be given to UN insiders. Women do not need a leader who has learned to accept the UN’s shortcomings and play by its unspoken rules. She must be frankly skeptical of calcified systems that do not serve half the world’s citizens. If there were women within the system with the capability to change it, they would have done so already. (emphasis added)

The GEAR Campaign laid out five criteria which it felt qualified candidates would possess:

  1. Experience in and passion for working on gender equality and women’s empowerment/human rights, with a demonstrated interest in engaging with civil society, and particularly women’s organizations;
  2. Thorough understanding of the needs and interests of women at the local grassroots, both in the Global South and North, with a successful track record of concrete impact in the field;
  3. Demonstrated and recognized leadership and integrity, including:
    • Collaborative working style and ability to build positive relationships with a wide range of partners;
    • Visible record of public advocacy for gender equality and women’s human right and empowerment; and
    • Readiness to be outspoken and independent in fulfilling the entity’s mandates;
  4. Track record in fundraising and proven skills in the management of complex organizations and developing strategy accordingly in a creative and effective manner
  5. Be politically astute and able to engage effectively with a wide range of key actors in international negotiations.

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About Tony Fleming

Tony is a communications and advocacy professional with over 15 years experience in United Nations reform advocacy. He began blogging about multilateral elections in 2006 at UNSG.org. He and his wife currently live in Panajachel, Guatemala. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.