U.N. Fails to Lead By Example

This past week in class, we talked about the United Nations. We learned how it was created, what all the major organs were, and the fact that all Secretary Generals have spoken French…oh and that none have ever been a woman. This year, more women than ever before vied for the spot of Secretary General, with the candidacies including seven women and six men. But according to their latest appointment of António Guterres as the new leader of the organization, this male-leader trend will continue, at least for the next five years.  

But don’t worry, they are still promoting gender equality because they just chose Wonder Woman as their mascot. As a cartoon character, Wonder Woman will be able to play a huge role in assuring that women around the world know that their voices are being heard. Sarcasm. The outreach director of the UN’s department of public information, Maher Nasser, stated that “Wonder Woman’s avatar would be used on social media platforms to promote important messages about women’s empowerment, including on gender-based violence and the fuller participation of women in public life” (Sengupta, NY Times). Sengupta of the New York Times states that, if Wonder Woman were to actually “traipse through the halls of the United Nations headquarters…she would inevitably have to vanquish problems, such as peacekeepers who sexually abuse civilians and major military powers that bomb schools.”

It’s more than a little controversial due to the fact that there is a huge gender gap in senior appointments in the organization, with nine out of ten positions going to men.

The problem isn’t that these women weren’t qualified for the position. In fact, some of them had qualifications that “surpassed several previous secretaries general” (Sengupta, NY Times). The fact that the U.N. set a goal 20 years ago to appoint 50 percent of the top positions to women and is still far from reaching that goal remains a big point of concern for many as the international organization continues to insist that one of its main goal is to empower women and promote equality around the world. When it comes to sending an important message, I think leading by example is the most powerful way to do that.


“U.N. Picks Powerful Feminist (Wonder Woman) for Visible Job (Mascot)”

“Hopes Dimming for a Woman to Lead the United Nations”


2 thoughts on “U.N. Fails to Lead By Example

  1. The selection of Wonder Woman to represent the UN was, I thought, one of the strangest stories to come out of the UN in recent years. Jesse Helms, the long-time Republican senator from North Carolina who always criticized the UN for being ineffective, is probably turning over in his grave. Thanks for bringing attention in your post not just to Wonder Woman but to the missing women in the UN Secretariat.


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