The United Nations have elected Mr Volkan Bozkir to be the 75th President of the General Assembly, making him the 71st man to serve in this position.

Ambassador Bozkir, who is a Turkish national, takes over from Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria who was last year’s president of the Assembly.

In the 75 years history of the United Nations General Assembly only four women have been president of the General Assembly, making a mere 5,3%.

This means that out of 75 people who served as president of the UN General Assembly since 1946, only four of them were women.

The first woman to serve in this position was India’s Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in 1953. The next woman was Angie E. Brooks of Liberia in 1969.

Then there was a period of 37 years where only men served in this position until another woman by the name of Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain was elected in 2006. Another woman was only elected in 2018, 12 years later. She was Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador.

The UN General Assembly serves more or less as the “parliament” of the world, where world leaders from all countries assemble to discuss the condition of the world and make resolutions which the UN Agencies will have to implement.

The President of the General Assembly is the leader of the discussions and makes the final decision as to what else should be discussed at the session which usually takes place in September.

While the position of General Assembly President is not as powerful as that of the UN Secretary General, the incumbent President still has considerable influence over UN affairs for a period of 12 months.

So that the world’s unwillingness to elect women to serve in this position is a shameful scar on the conscience of the United Nations.

When contacted for comment UN in Namibia’s National Information Officer Ms Anthea Basson said:

“Despite considerable progress over the last decade to promote meaningful participation of women in political and electoral affairs, the nagging gap in gender politics still persists.  Transformation at this scale does not happen overnight.”

The new UN General Assembly President was elected in June, and he will chair the General Assembly session starting on 15 September amid the Covid-19 pandemic.