United Nations, Aug. 28: On 26th Aug, United Nations witnessed another historical moment. Tatiana Valovaya appointed as 13th Director-General of UN Geneva, but the most important thing is, she is 1st woman to hold this position. This incident manifested the UN’s commitment to ‘Gender Parity’.
(From left to right: Renata Dwan (Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research), Izumi Nakamitsu (Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Tatiana Valovaya (Secretary-General of the CD), Anja Kaspersen (Director of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs), and Radha Day, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Office for Disarmament Affairs, Secretary of the Conference on Disarmament)
Now, making this tradition more proud, disarmament affairs at the UN are for the first time in history led by four women, Tatiana Valovaya (Secretary-General of the CD), Izumi Nakamitsu (Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Anja Kaspersen (Director of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs), and Renata Dwan (Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research).
As we can see, more women in leadership positions in this field could pave the way for more gender balance in disarmament fora – which have traditionally been largely male-dominated.
Gender balance in disarmament is long overdue. There is no doubt that the leadership of these four female top officials will contribute to raising women’s voices in those for - the first step towards gender-responsive disarmament.
As highlighted in UNIDIR’s recent report ‘Still behind the curve’, women remain seriously underrepresented at United Nations disarmament meetings, and at any given intergovernmental meeting on disarmament, only one-quarter of the participants are likely to be women and close to half of all delegations are likely to include no women at all.
Despite some progress, “it is still possible to attend a session of the Conference on Disarmament, where dozens of State representatives take the floor, and not hear a single woman speak”.
In his 2018 Agenda for Disarmament, the Secretary-General expressed concern that the continued marginalization of women in these discussions was a loss for all and called for the full and equal participation of women in all decision-making processes related to disarmament and international security.
“Women”, Tatiana Valovaya noted, can bring a different outlook and experience to disarmament-related discussions”. This is particularly relevant as women and men are disproportionately affected by issues related to weapons of mass destruction, small arms, light weapons or landmines.