“The UN must lead by example in appointing its next Secretary-General: make this moment count for gender equality”

Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women


UN Women welcomes the many voices amplifying United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s recent strong comment that “It’s high time now” for his successor to be a woman, after 70 years of male leadership.

Not since the birth of the United Nations (UN) has global public interest and engagement been so high in who will be the ninth Secretary-General. This is the first such election since UN Women was formed and the first within the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There is an appetite as never before to make this moment count for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

All over the world, in petitions, letters, debates, and all forms of media, individuals and citizen groups are calling for the UN to select a woman with a demonstrated commitment to gender equality, peace, development, justice and human rights to lead the United Nations. These include the staff of the UN, who serve with dedication and commitment in often-difficult and dangerous situations.

The Security Council and General Assembly have 10 strong candidates from whom to select, with an equal number of women and men. The candidates’ deep experience, varied skills and gender balance make this the strongest pool ever fielded for selection. Never before have there been so many superbly qualified women in the running for this position.

The opportunity is here to appoint a leader who will open a new chapter in the fight for women’s rights, right from the top.