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Good morning, this is Michelle. With time, more and more women have joined UN ranks. This has been especially visible at the top level, with figures like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Rebecca Grynspan and, more recently, Cindy McCain coming into the scene.

Despite the apparent progress, numbers show that gender equality has yet to permeate all levels of the world body. But some of the issues the UN struggles with go way back to its predecessor, the League of Nations.

On this week’s agenda, a UN report on Russia’s racist practices in the context of the war is due to be presented, and civil society continues to meet with the WHO to discuss key health issues, including pandemic treaty talks.

photo journaliste

Michelle Langrand


On our radar

Photo article

World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde arrive for an international women’s day event at WTO headquarters in Geneva on 8 March 2023. (Keystone/Martial Trezzini)

How much substance is there to the UN gender parity goal? For decades, leadership photo galleries at many of the UN agencies looked very much alike. The images of mostly greying or balding men would not appear out of place in organisations’ lobbies, while women held far less senior positions in the global institutions. When UN secretary general António Guterres assumed office in 2017, he pledged to ensure gender balance at all levels of the organisation. While the numbers show more women are joining UN ranks every year, they don’t tell the whole story.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

What to watch this week 👀

🪖The UN committee on racial discrimination will present its findings this Friday after having evaluated Russia as well as other countries over the last weeks. The experts have raised concerns that forced mobilisation and conscription have disproportionately affected ethnic or indigenous groups, including Crimean Tatars and migrants.

🏥Civil society, WHO officials and country delegates will continue to discuss key health issues, including the ongoing talks on a pandemic treaty and budgetary reforms, ahead of next month’s World Health Assembly. The informal meetings, which kicked off two weeks ago, are part of WHO’s efforts to include non-state actors more in its processes.

🇺🇸UN experts on racial justice are scheduled to travel to the United States from 24 April to 5 May, almost three years after the murder of George Floyd. The visit by the group mandated by the Human Rights Council to look into systemic racism in law enforcement comes as the shooting of a black teen for ringing the wrong doorbell reignites outcry against racial violence.

The big interview

A hundred years of striving for equality at global bodies. Since the establishment of international organisations, women have struggled to get the deserved recognition, pay and respect for their work as civil servants amid historical, cultural and political constraints. Historian Myriam Piguet tells us why the UN’s project to provide equal opportunities to the sexes remained somewhat of a stale plan for so long, frozen by political and cultural constraints, while discriminatory pay practices and sexual harassment went unchecked.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Also on the agenda

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