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The United Nations has played a crucial role in advocating for the rights of women and girls, aiding countries in their efforts to ensure these rights. Since its inception, the UN has not only established specific bodies dedicated to gender equality but has also been the primary force behind the World Conference on Women. From this conference emerged the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the international bill of rights for women since 1979, and the Beijing Action Plan in 1995, among other achievements.

Despite these noble efforts, gender parity is not always applied within the organization itself, including its main governing body—the General Assembly. According to GWL Voices’ flagship report “Women in Multilateralism 2023,” since the UN’s founding in 1945, the presidency of the General Assembly has been held by a total of 74 men and only four women. Moreover, no woman has ever held the position of Secretary-General of the UN. 

Rotation for Equality at the UNPGA

While many organizations within the UN system have achieved full gender parity, the General Assembly has not followed suit. Although the UN General Assembly has established specific methods to ensure equal representation from all regions through a rotation system, gender parity remains elusive.

GWL Voices firmly believes that rotating between male and female candidates in the UN Presidency is crucial for gender equality within the UN system and accelerating progress globally. Therefore, the regional rotation concept inspires GWL Voices’ Gender Alternation campaign.

GWL Voices’ proposal, called “Rotation for Equality,” echoes similar initiatives in several UN member states that require men and women to alternate roles such as candidate lists for members of parliament and provincial governorships.

Integrating the principle of rotation for equality in the Presidency of the General Assembly will ensure gender parity alongside regional rotation. It is also a straightforward mechanism to initiate closing the gender gaps within the UN system.

After steady advocacy efforts, GWL Voices has already received support from three countries—Botswana, Slovenia, and Spain—declaring their commitment during UNGA 78. These three countries are taking the lead in ensuring gender equality within the UN system and taking concrete actions to achieve it.

For UNGA 79, Africa will hold the presidency based on regional rotation. GWL Voices is proposing that it should also rotate between male and female candidates, to ensure the appointment of a woman to this position.

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Madam Secretary-General

As previously stated, the United Nations has never had a female Secretary-General in its close to 80 years of history. To manifest a commitment to gender equality at this level, GWL Voices is starting the “Madam Secretary-General” campaign.

Data demonstrates the benefits of having women in leadership positions and their positive effects on increasing women’s representation and leadership. There is a considerable number of experienced and capable women leaders ready to assume this position. For this reason, GWL Voices is gathering support from countries and leaders committed to achieving equality and working towards ensuring that UN member states appoint the first-ever Madam Secretary-General.

The current geopolitical scenario underscores the need for new and renewed leadership, both within countries and organizations. GWL Voices firmly believes that having women in the Presidency of the UN General Assembly, and as the UN Secretary-General can make this happen.

Contact us if you would like to support our #Rotation4Equality campaign and/or #MadamSecretaryGeneral.