On Tuesday 5 June 2018, the United Nations General Assembly elected Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of its upcoming 73rd session starting in September 2018; only the fourth woman to hold that position in the history of the world body, and the first since 2006, more than a decade ago.
The previous women leaders of the Assembly were India’s Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in 1953; Liberia’s Angie Elisabeth Brooks in 1969 and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain in 2006.
In her acceptance speech, she dedicated her election to all the women in the world who participate in politics today and who face political and media attacks marked by machismo and discrimination. She said:
I would like to pay a special tribute to the women who struggle every day to access jobs on equal terms, to women and girls who are victims of violence, to girls and adolescents who demand access to quality information and education. My commitment will always be to them.
She is the first woman ever from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over the Assembly and was the first woman to be named Permanent Representative of Ecuador in New York, after having served as Ambassador in Geneva.
Frankly, four out of 73 is not a record to be proud of. But I am glad we are getting ourselves on track.
said Miroslav Lajčák current President of the General Assembly and International Gender Champion, until she takes office in September 2018.
The Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, who is also an International Gender Champion congratulated Ms. Espinosa Garcés on her election:
However, the Assembly also elected 16 Vice-Presidents, of which only one is a woman, H.E. Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, from Qatar.
In consecutive meetings of its six Main Committees the Assembly then elected members of their respective bureau: among the six Chairs of the Main Committees, International Gender Champion H.E. Ms. Gillian Bird of Australia is the only woman, and less than 30% of the Committee’s Vice-Chairs are women.
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