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Female lawmakers urge Obama to back a woman for UN chief

Female lawmakers urge Obama to back a woman for UN chief
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A bipartisan pair of female House members are calling on President Obama to push a woman to be nominated as the next United Nations secretary-general in his speech this week before the organization’s General Assembly.

In a letter to Obama on Monday, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results LIVE COVERAGE: Congress certifies Biden win after Pennsylvania, Arizona challenges fail Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Wyo.) suggested he prioritize nominating the first female secretary-general in his Tuesday speech.

“70 years after the founding of the UN, it has yet to truly live up to the promise in its charter to 'to reaffirm faith in … the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.' It’s time for the UN to select a leader who represents half the world’s population — a half that often goes unheard on the international stage,” Speier and Lummis wrote.

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They noted that Obama has nominated two women, Samantha PowerSamantha PowerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home The Hill's 12:30 Report: House moves toward second impeachment MORE and Susan Rice, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“We ask that you further this work in your remarks to the UN General Assembly by addressing the importance of selecting a qualified woman UN Secretary-General,” they wrote. 

The incumbent U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, endorsed the idea of having a woman succeed him when his second five-year term expires at the end of this year.

“We have many distinguished and eminent women leaders in national governments or other organizations or even business communities, political communities, and cultural and every aspect of our life,” Ban told the Associated Press last month. “There’s no reason why not in the United Nations.” 

“So that’s my humble suggestion, but that’s up to member states,” Ban said.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council recommends a candidate for the General Assembly to approve. The U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council and will have a role in nominating a candidate.

Four of the nine candidates in the mix for secretary-general are women: Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Natalia Gherman of Moldova, Helen Clark of New Zealand and Susana Malcorra of Argentina. 

Two recent informal polls conducted by the Security Council showed that the female candidates were behind their male counterparts, according to the AP. Former Portuguese Prime Minister and United Nations refugee chief Antonio Guterres held the lead in both polls, the AP reported.