Senior African leaders on the UN have criticised the “sexist and racist” language utilized in protection of the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the brand new president of the World Commerce Group.
Okonjo-Iweala, a graduate of Harvard College, was confirmed as the brand new head of the WTO final week, making her the primary girl and the primary African to steer the organisation.
However members of the UN senior African group (Unsag) – together with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Ladies, Winnie Byanyima, who leads UNAids, and Vera Songwe, the manager secretary of the UN Financial Fee for Africa – stated in a letter that the language utilized in some media to explain her appointment was “offensive, sexist and racist in a world the place each private and non-private sector management is dominated by ageing Caucasian males, who’re revered for the expertise and expertise they carry and have by no means been characterised by their lineage and offspring”.
Mlambo-Ngcuka, co-chair of Unsag, informed the Guardian: “There may be loads of prejudice in opposition to girls in management that’s simply refusing to go away. We see it relating to feminine politicians or at grassroots degree.”
One headline within the Swiss each day newspaper Luzerner Zeitung initially learn: “This grandmother will grow to be the boss of the WTO.” The headline was later modified.
“When males ascend [to power] at a later age, we have fun their expertise and accomplishments,” stated Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Nobody talks about them as a grandfathers, it’s not a related speaking level.”
She stated UN Ladies was pushing onerous to handle the harassment feminine leaders face, “which in some circumstances discourages girls from arising and taking over management positions as a result of they don’t want this nonsense.
“We actually want to speak about this so subsequent time we now have an identical scenario, newspapers assume twice earlier than they write something like that.”
Her feedback got here as UN Ladies gears up for 2 main worldwide conferences this yr to advance gender equality, together with girls’s position in politics.
Mlambo-Ngcuka stated the Technology Equality boards, which can be held subsequent month in Mexico and in France in June, will convey collectively authorities leaders, civil society, younger individuals and the personal sector to agree a costed set of proposals to attain gender justice in coverage areas – together with equal pay, violence, healthcare and decision-making. The boards have been postponed final yr due to the pandemic.
Mlambo-Ngcuka stated girls have been shouldering the duty alone for too lengthy and known as on males to cease being bystanders and be a part of the battle for equality.
Males’s failure to behave “allows violence and violations to thrive”, she stated. “They aren’t taking the steps to hitch the facet of ladies, and we’re saying being bystanders actually shouldn’t be an possibility.
“As [Nelson] Mandela stated, when good males do nothing, that could be a conspiracy in opposition to girls,” added the previous South African deputy president.
She stated the pandemic had introduced a “willingness to take heed to the problems that we now have been elevating so many occasions, on so many alternative platforms”, however the devastation it has wreaked on girls’s lives, significantly economically, was not mirrored within the stimulus packages being mentioned.
“We’d like the worldwide monetary establishments and the nationwide establishments to speak about this and what they’re doing,” she stated. “When they’re speaking about constructing again higher, they need to discuss it in a gender responsive and equitable approach.”