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We have published for the first time the results of a comprehensive mapping of the gender of leaders in 33 of the world’s most important multilateral organizations. Multilateral organizations claim to be committed to gender equality. But are these values reflected in their leadership? The anecdotal evidence says otherwise.

This report analyzes the gender of leaders at 33 of the largest multilateral organizations since 1945 based on publicly available data gathered by GWL Voices. The results raise one important question: where are the women leaders?

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🔴 Throughout history, these organizations have had 382 leaders. 335 of them were men and only 47 were women. On average, women have been in charge for a mere 12% of the time since 1945.

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🔴 We found that 13 of these organizations —including all four world’s largest development banks— have only been led by men, and 5 of the organizations have elected a woman director only once in their entire history.

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🔴 Currently, only a third of these organizations are headed by women. When the thematic universe of these organizations is taken into account, those that present more women directors come as no surprise: environment, childhood and, of course, gender.

GWL Voices’s mission is to increase the participation of women in multilateralism, as a vehicle for improving women’s welfare everywhere. The first step to achieve gender equality in leadership is to acknowledge the facts. Women are vastly underrepresented in positions of power. We already have the numbers, we know the big picture. Now let’s use this evidence to drive change.

GWL Voices will update and expand on this report periodically, continuing to advocate for increased transparency and participation by women until the multilateral system fully embodies its stated values and principles.

For media inquiries about the report, please contact