Four Women Vying to Become the First Female U.N. Secretary-General

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The government of New Zealand has nominated the country’s former prime minister, Helen Clark, for the role of Secretary-General of the United Nations.

She becomes the fourth female candidate for the U.N.’s top job, alongside UNESCO’s Bulgarian head Irina Bokova, former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusić, and former Moldovan foreign minister Natalia Gherman.

If any of the four are chosen to succeed current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is opting not to pursue an unprecedented third term, they will be the first woman to hold the position.

Clark, who currently heads the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), said in a statement that to be nominated by New Zealand’s government was a “great honor,” the New Zealand Herald reported.

“It is an extremely challenging position but I’m used to that,” she said of the Secretary-General job. “My whole adult life has seen me progressively stepping up to leadership challenges.”

Clark’s entrance into the race will place additional pressure on the selection committee to appoint a woman, The Guardian reports. Four months ago, prominent U.N. officials penned a joint letter to the organization’s 193 member states specifically calling for the nomination of female candidates for the Secretary-General spot.


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