A few blocks from the Trump Tower, another global leader is assembling his cabinet ahead of taking office in January. And so far, women outnumber men 3 to 0.
Antonio Guterres, the incoming UN Secretary General, announced his first three key administration posts yesterday. This includes the selection of Amina Mohammad of Nigeria as his Deputy Secretary General.
Mohammad is currently the minister of the environment in Nigeria and has served in UN posts in the past. Most recently she was tapped by Ban Ki Moon to coordinate the process that eventually lead to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.
In January of that year, she told me that she saw her role as “keeping the highest possible ambition” when negotiations for the final draft of the SDGs began in earnest. To that end, she was largely successful. Several goals call for the “elimination” of a global ill–like extreme poverty– as opposed to simply reducing it.
This role compelled her to coordinate across UN agencies and with nearly every UN member state to advance a global development agenda. We can expect that with this pick, the Sustainable Development agenda’s fifteen year plan will be a top priority during the administration of Antonio Guterres.
Listen: Incoming deputy secretary general Amina Mohammad discusses coalition-building to fight extreme poverty. (Interview with Amina Mohammad begins at minute 20)
Mohammad will be the second woman to serve as the second in command at the UN. (In 2006 Ban tapped the Tanzanian diplomat Asha Rose Migiro to serve as his deputy.) Guterres’ other picks include the Brazilian diplomat Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti as his chief of staff and Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea in the new role of special policy advisor.
Guterres’ picks are significant for the fact that there was profound disappointment among many member states that female candidates for Secretary General were passed over. And, in general, there is a significant gender imbalance among top posts at the United Nations. Guterres acknowledged as much in his inauguration address last week when he pledged to “reach full gender parity at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels, including special representatives and special envoys,” by the end of his term.
These picks suggest that he is off to a decent start.