C21st must bring "true commitment" to sexual equality: Irina Bokova

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General Assembly Seventieth session Informal Dialogues with Candidates for the Position of Secretary-General: Ms. Irina Bokova. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The 21st century represents the time for the world to show "true commitment" to gender equality in all its forms.

That's one of the key arguments offered by Irina Bokova, in her appearance before the UN General Assembly, in a bid to become the next Secretary-General.

The former politician and diplomat from Bulgaria currently serves as the first female Director-General of the UN cultural organization, UNESCO.

Dianne Penn has more.

Irina Bokova, speaking in French throughout her opening remarks to Member States, said that she had developed the "audacity" to run for the UN's top job thanks to her long experience in government and diplomacy.

She said the UN and the world at large needed to develop a new confidence and respect for humanity, based on the successes of last year, with the 2030 sustainable development agenda and the historic climate change agreement in Paris.

But her closing remarks focused on the rights of women and hinted at the forceful direction she would take the UN in.

Speaking through an interpreter, she said:

"I think that the 21st century has to be the century of a true commitment to equality between the sexes. We see today that it is not possible to reach peace or sustainable development without the equality of the sexes. Please allow me to say now that amongst the obstacles which were overlooked and ignored for far too many years is violence against women."

So far, eight candidates have been proposed by Member States to lead the UN from 2017: four men and four women.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

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