UN Women Candidate Interviews

One of the few organizations engaged on the selection of the new Executive Director of UN Women is the Association for Women in Development.

AWID has interviewed 3 of the 4 confirmed candidates for UN Women Executive Director.

Since the close of nominations, they have reached out to the four confirmed candidates and invited them to share their priorities and hopes for the organization if they are selected. Three of the four responded — Kim Campbell (Canada), Rebecca Grynspan (Costa Rica) and Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (Zimbabwe). Only Patricia Francis (Jamaica) did not submit a response.

The responses from Campbell, Grynspan and Gumbonzvanda were published today on the AWID website

The questions asked focus on the candidate’s experience and vision for UN Women, but do not inquire on the process of selection itself. The candidates are hesitant to speak on this, as the process is designed to protect the confidentiality of the Secretary  General’s decision-making. The questions include: 

  • Why do you want to be the Executive Director of UN Women?
  • What experience in working for women’s rights and gender equality would you bring to the position of Executive Director of UN Women?
  • What is your vision for the future role that UN Women can play in advancing women’s rights and gender equality around the world?
  • As Executive Director of UN Women, how would you seek to work with diverse women’s rights organizations and movements?

 AWID notes that Lakshmi Puri and Tarja Halonen, rumored to have been under consideration, did not put their names forward as nominees. The remaining unconfirmed candidate is Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. Of course, there could other candidates whose nominations have not been made public but whom the Secretary General and his senior appointments teams are considering. As the process and timeline is being kept very quiet — not even UN Women is privy to much of the discussions — it is likely that how these and any other candidates are evaluated against the announced criteria will remain unknown. 

“In general, AWID is concerned by the lack of transparency in this process and the significant difficulties in accessing accurate information about the candidates. We hope that by sharing the views of three of the candidates for this key position at the UN, we can contribute to making the process more transparent and to ensuring that feminist and women’s rights organizations and movements and other interested parties, are sufficiently informed to send letters of support for their preferred candidate to the UN Secretary General.”

It is possible that some interviews with the candidates have already taken place and that one or more of the candidates have been eliminated from consideration. But the lack of openness in the process prevents women’s groups or other stakeholders in the success of gender equality efforts by the United Nations — including UN Women itself — from having any say in the matter. 

About the Author

Tony Fleming

Tony is a communications and advocacy professional with over 20 years of experience in multilateral reform advocacy and online communications.

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