Why This Woman Wants To Lead The U.N.

Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images.
Helen Clark is running for United Nations secretary general.
Another high-profile woman has officially joined the race to be the next leader of the United Nations.

Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand and current head of the U.N.'s Development Programme, announced this week that she is running for secretary-general of the 193-country body.

“The position of secretary-general is about giving a voice to 7 billion people who look to the U.N for hope and support,” Clark said as she launched her campaign in New York.

Many U.N. observers believe this year's election will produce the first female leader in the U.N.'s 70-year history. Clark is one of four women, and eight candidates, running to succeed outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"I'm not campaigning as a woman candidate, I'm campaigning as the best person for the job," she told the BBC. "But obviously as a woman, and someone who's been a longtime advocate of women's empowerment and gender equality, I like to see women get to the top of whatever field of life."

Other women already running to be the U.N.'s top diplomat include UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Vesna Pusić, a former deputy speaker of parliament and foreign minister in Croatia, and Moldovan politician Natalia Gherman.

Several campaigns have been working to support female candidates and bring more transparency to the process for selecting a secretary-general heading into this year's General Assembly.

“At this point, it would be really surprising if a woman wasn’t selected,” Antonia Kirkland, legal advisor to Equality Now, which has been part of the campaign to elect a female secretary-general, told Refinery29 at the end of 2015.

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