Join us in celebrating the International Day of Women in Diplomacy, ensuring women’s representation in the international system, including the Presidency of the U.N. General Assembly.
In our latest OpEd, Susana Malcorra, President of GWL Voices proposes how this could change.
Women have played a crucial role in global governance since the drafting and signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945, nevertheless, throughout history, these organizations have had 382 leaders, 335 of them were men and only 47 were women.
74 men – and only four women – have led the U.N. General Assembly since 1946; each year, the world’s most important governing body, the U.N. General Assembly presidency alternates among world regions. Since women account for only 5% of the General Assembly’s presidents in nearly eight decades, it is time to gender alternation.
GWL Voices reaffirms the commitment to building a more robust multilateral system where women play a more significant role in global decision-making and guiding progress. But are women’s critical role in diplomacy reflected in leadership? The evidence says otherwise.
According to GWL Voices’ Report, the percentage of time women have led these organizations over the decades shows that progress could have been faster and more. Women were nearly absent from such positions in the first four decades following World War II. Only from the 1980s onwards did a positive but modest trend of increasing female leadership emerge.
On average, women have been in charge for a mere 12% of the time since 1945. This role we play needs to be sufficiently reflected in the leadership of the organizations we often represent, and we speak from the experience of 10 of the organizations led by 15 women that belong to GWL Voices.
María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, GWL Voices’ Executive Director, was the fourth woman to preside over U.N. General Assembly in of the 73rd session. (+)
What is needed is to include said change in the current reform package for the General Assembly’s rules and procedures.
Since 1946, out of the 78 presidents elected, a mere four have been women, all from the global south. In the early years, the assembly might have justified this gender imbalance due to prevalent structural sexism worldwide.
Such justifications no longer hold water. It is widely recognized that countless highly qualified women stand ready to assume these responsibilities. Gender equality has garnered support from an overwhelming majority of U.N. member countries, with a commitment to achieving gender parity visible in parliaments, corporate boards, government ministries, and academic institutions’ leadership.
Regrettably, when it comes to the leadership of international institutions, governments fall conspicuously short of aligning with the preferences of their own societies. Currently, only 24% of permanent representatives to the U.N. are women — a bias that permeates throughout the international organizations constituting its system, explains Susana Malcorra, President of GWL Voices.