Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Michelle Bachelet: The new "Ovary-Secretary-General" for UN Women – An Inspired Choice.

"As the old joke goes, I have all the sins together.
I am a woman, Socialist, separated and agnostic."

Dr Michelle Bachelet, the 58 year-old former Chilean President, has been chosen by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to head up the new United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women to be known as UN Women. (see my blog of July 29, 2010)

This is an inspired choice.

The daughter of a father who was tortured and murdered by Pinochet’s regime, she herself was tortured before fleeing to Australia and the former East Germany. She returned to Chile in 1979 and graduated in 1983. A paediatrician by training she has advanced degrees in military strategy and military science and has been active in Chilean politics since 1980. As Minister of Health in 2000 her time was famous for the controversy surrounding the decision to make the morning-after pill available for victims of sexual abuse. She was appointed Defense Minister in 2002 and in 2006 was elected President of Chile. Of particular interest to her new colleagues in UN Women is that as President Bachelet insisted on ‘gender parity’ in all senior appointments. Her term of office as President ended in March of this year.

In case my choice of ‘Ovary-Secretary-General’ as a descriptive epithet is thought demeaning or crass it is not meant to be. The actual position Dr Bachelet is appointed to is as an Under-Secretary General and, leaving aside the fact that this dynamic woman would never be an ‘Under’ anything, I find the almost ‘marginalizing’ title Under-Secretary to be a little like being Sub-Saharan.

In any event Bachelet appears to have a wonderful sense of humour. When being interviewed by senior colleagues to see whether she would consider running for President of Chile one senator asked her ‘What is your dream?

She answered,

"You all want to know what is my dream?
Very simple. To walk along the beach, holding the hand of my lover.”

I really do wonder what she said to the very proper Ban Ki-moon!

Further Info:

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