Accomplished, Qualified Women Unfit for United Nations Secretary-General Appointment

Image: Reuters

By Garima Karia

On October 13th 2016, the next Secretary-General of the world’s most powerful diplomatic organization, the United Nations, was appointed. It was a hard-fought battle between the ten nominees, as is expected in highly competitive political processes. The candidates had to deliver numerous persuasive speeches, engage in rigorous debate, subject themselves to grueling Q&A sessions, and stand by in apprehension as straw poll results and media coverage speculated about their fates.  This Secretary-General race, however, was different from all those that took place before it. For the first time in history, five out of the ten nominees were female. For the first time in history, there was a chance that the new Secretary-General of the United Nations could have been a woman.

So, on October 13th, the UN General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of the UN Security Council, formally appointed António Guterres as the next UN Secretary-General. “Why?” Oh, but isn’t it obvious?

The Security Council’s blatant disregard for the preference of countless individuals, prominent organizations, and the former Secretary-General himself was for good reason. That reason is that António Guterres is a man.

We all know that there’s no way in this modern day and age that a woman could ever come out of any arduous political campaign victorious. It’s not like other parliamentary bodies have taken steps towards gender parity in governance or anything. What year do we think we’re in, 2016?

Regardless, some people were pretty upset that our 19th Secretary-General will not be a woman. So, to everyone across the globe that was counting on shattering that glass ceiling, let me explain why António Guterres is the best candidate for this position.

As the former prime minister of Portugal and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Guterres’ rivals Irina Bokova, Helen Clark, and Kristalina Georgieva stood no chance against his wealth of competence, experience, and most importantly his Y chromosome. Guterres is praised for having the ability to bring some more rhetorical firepower to the UN. He’s not afraid to call out adversaries in his speeches – something a woman could never do because they’re just too soft-spoken and consensus-seeking. How unfitting for the head of the UN!

Bokova is the Director-General of UNESCO, a specialized body of the United Nations. She manages 195 member states, five major programs, 25 official NGOs, and twelve specialized departments. Prior to spearheading UNESCO conferences or leading their Executive Board, Bokova served two terms as a member of the Bulgarian National parliament, as well as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs ad interim under Prime Minister Videnov.

Helen Clark has been the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, the third-highest position, as of 2009. Prior to serving as the former Secretary-General’s third-in-command for half a decade, she served as New Zealand’s Prime Minister for three consecutive terms, from 1999 to 2008, and was the first woman elected to the position at a general election.

Kristalina Georgieva currently serves as the European Union Commission Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources. In this role since 2014, Georgieva negotiates and manages the EU budget, ensuring that it is invested in a way that best serves EU citizens. From 1993 to 2010, she served in a number of positions in the World Bank Group, and worked her way to becoming its vice president and corporate secretary in 2008.

You could say they’re all pretty qualified… for girls.

Evidently, these women who have lead UN bodies and worked in embassies, lead governments and humanitarian operations, and communicated with diplomats in over five languages for decades don’t have what it takes to lead the United Nations. Indeed, they just aren’t qualified because they weren’t born with that critical chromosome. That Y chromosome that would enable them to represent more than a meager one out of 15 nations in the Security Council, and lead more than a mere twenty-two countries out of 196. If women were truly qualified in this progressive, modern age, they would have come to represent more global  leadership. That’s not the case, however, and it must simply be a matter of sex.

Despite this reality, woefully ignorant activists and civil society groups lobbied for a woman UNSG. The media screamed headlines the likes of “There Are Now Four Women Vying to Become the First Female U.N. Secretary-General” or Ban Ki-moon’s proclamation that, “My replacement should be a woman.” Well, if even Ban Ki-moon said it’s “high time” for a female head, especially since over 70 years have passed since the UN’s creation (in which time there have been eight Secretary-Generals), and the launching of a wide-reaching campaign to elect a female UN Secretary-General, some thought that the Security Council would respond to the popular cry from the international community…

Of course not! Everyone knows that nice guys (or, in this case, nice ladies) always finish last. Politicking and so-called backroom deals are the biggest factors in determining who is finally nominated! These women were too naive to realize that victory only comes to those who can sell enough votes. Their noble, albeit effeminate, morality kept them from making the necessary decisions better left to men! It’s a realist world, ladies! Everyone knows it’s better to be feared than to be loved. Get with the program.

But, of course, I kid.

The disturbing reality is that equal opportunities for female politicians are still staggeringly elusive, on every level. Whether you’re the only woman permanently on the UN Security Council or the only woman in a room full of men at your first collegiate Model UN conference, women are constantly under-represented in places where their voices matter. So, if the UN wants to credibly continue championing gender parity, I’d like a woman in the Secretary-General’s seat, please.

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