UN General Assembly president asks for more women in leadership positions

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Women are still vastly under-represented in leadership positions around the world, and it is high time to change it for good, said UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa on Friday.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the United Nations General Assembly, speaks during a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York, March 8, 2019. Women are still vastly under-represented in leadership positions around the world, and it is high time to change it for good, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said on Friday. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

Currently, only 5 percent of all heads of government and less than 5 percent of heads of state worldwide are female, she noted.

"Five percent, not good enough. It is high time to ensure more women get to positions of power," Espinosa told a news conference on the occasion of International Women's Day. "We all know by now that when women are leading, everybody wins."

She said the topic will be discussed at next Tuesday's "Women in Power" high-level event at the General Assembly. "We will have an opportunity to ask questions directly to the heads of state and government."

Six women heads of state and government will be in New York for the event, together with other leaders, representatives of international organizations and civil society, said Espinosa.

Female leaders that will participate in Tuesday's event include the presidents of Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Nepal, and Trinidad and Tobago, the prime minister of Iceland, and Federica Mogherini, European Union foreign affairs and security policy chief, she said.

Talking about the number of women in leading positions, Espinosa said "not only numbers; once the number is right, we should pay attention to quality."

The General Assembly head said that what's good about the gender equality is that the situation of inequality is changing, adding that not only in northern Europe, where the situation is better, as Iceland is the first country where salary gap between men and women has been abolished, countries like Rwanda has reached a 50:50 gender parity in their parliament, and Ethiopia has its first woman president in its history."

"The good part of the story is the world is getting more and more aware of the gender inequality," she said.

Espinosa, who is also a known poet, said that "we need to add more poetry into politics, and I am a strong believer of words." 

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