- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2016

A feminist group that lobbied for a woman to be selected as the next secretary general of the United Nations finds the choice of former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to be an “outrage,” the BBC said Thursday.

“There were seven outstanding female candidates and in the end it appears they were never seriously considered,” said a statement from The Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General, the BBC reported.’

But while some strongly condemn the choice as evidence of sexism, even some of Mr. Guterres’ female competitors for the job have a different perspective, noted the BBC.

“Bittersweet results #NextSG,” tweeted finalist Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica. “Bitter: not a woman. Sweet: by far the best man in the race. Congrats Antonio Guterres! We are all with you.”

For her part, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who had also a finalist for the job, told reporters recently that there were all kinds of other factors in play in selecting a secretary general.

“If you’re asking whether women are being discriminated against — no,” Ms. Clark told the Guardian newspaper in September. “There are a lot of factors swirling around. There is east-west, there is north-south, there’s the style of what’s wanted in the job. Do they want strong leadership? Do they want malleable? It’s all cross-cutting, and we don’t know what will come in the wash.”

The Guardian noted in that same Sept. 26 article that Mr. Guterres was already considered the “clear leader” in the contest to succeed outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. 

“Guterres benefited from an early selection process that was unprecedentedly open by UN standards,” said the Guardian of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and he “won points for his humour, charisma and mastery of his brief” with his speech to the U.N. General Assembly advocating for his selection.

Although he was selected as the top choice by the U.N. Security Council, the full General Assembly still has to vote on his nomination.

If selected, Mr. Guterres will assume office on Jan. 1, becoming only the ninth person to head the international body in its 61-year history. No woman has ever held the office.

A former president of Socialist International, Mr. Guterres will also be the first European to hold the secretariat since Austrian Kurt Waldheim left office in 1981.

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