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Women’s equal leadership imperative says frmr Chilean Pres now UN Women leader

Hon. Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria

Sustainable development will come when essential public services … for education, health care, water, sanitation, energy and social protection are accessible to everyone says Michelle Bachelet
Editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett

International Women’s Day

The United Nations has observed International Women’s Day on March 8 since 1975.

In that year's International Women’s Year, the United Nations began the March 8 celebration of International Women’s Day. In December of 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Michelle Bachelet’s thoughts in a Kapuscinski Lecture two years ago ─ “The century of inclusion and women’s full participation” ─ seem apt for this year’s observance.

“While women constitute over half of humanity,” the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women said, “they are far from enjoying equal rights, equal opportunities and equal participation and leadership with men. Women’s contributions to peace and democratization, she said, “typically do not translate into leadership roles in decision-making institutions.”

End the status quo
Launch new, diverse, woman-quality leadership

“The 21st century must be the century of inclusion,” Bachelet said. That means women’s equal leadership and participation.

The nature of leadership can no longer be “by control and command,” she said. “It is about listening and leveraging a response.

Leadership has to strive for inclusion. The castles are burning down. The fortresses and moats are no longer tenable. Now is the time for openness and participation.

Leadership is not a singular or insular endeavor.

Leadership is about consultation and collaboration. Government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

True leadership is about participation and engagement.

Leadership pursues equality. We can no longer pursue public policies that, in effect, save the best for the best; and the rest for the rest.

Leadership embraces diversity and integrative societies.

True leaders strive to value and understand people.

Quality leadership requires humility, respect for self and others, a strong belief in the possible.

“Democracy is rooted in solidarity, peace and justice; and democratic reform requires leadership with conviction. It requires equality and inclusion.

“We need to advance universal values with universal coverage. Education and healthcare, safe water and sanitation, housing and energy, decent work ─ these are not charitable contributions or government handouts; they are rights to which every human being is entitled.”

“‘Progress’ redefined” ─ UN Women

“I took the position of founding Executive Director of UN Women out of a deep conviction that the progress we need to see in inclusion will have to push vigorously ─ and with conviction ─ for women’s empowerment and gender equality. …” Bachelet said.

“I hold the position that we need to redefine what is progress” ─ progress as the measure of “how well we promote inclusion and reduce inequalities.”

“We [at UN Women] are pushing for governments to agree on, then take measures so that women can access opportunities as leaders and as full participants in decision making related to policies, social and economic issues, and the environment.

“We are pushing for women’s equal opportunities in economies and this demands a series of measures which include

Providing childcare and work-life policies;
Ending violence and discrimination;
Removing barriers women face to owning land and accessing credit.

Attributed to Michelle Bachelet in separate contexts, she says: I am a woman, a socialist, separated and agnostic, all the sins together … Who could have thought twenty, ten, or five years ago ─ that Chile would elect a woman to be president!

Sources and notes

“The century of inclusion and women’s full participation” Kapuscinski Lecture: Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, at Dublin, Ireland. February 21, 2013,

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet

Former Chilean Minister of Defense, Minister of Health and President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet is the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.

UN Women was established on July 2, 2010, by the United Nations General Assembly. The organization leads, supports and coordinates work on gender equality and empowerment of women globally and at regional and country levels.

Before taking on the leadership of UN Women, Bachelet ─ a long-time champion of women’s rights advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout her career ─ had most recently served as President of Chile (2006-2010).

One of her major successes as Chile’s President was her decision to save billions of dollars in revenues to spend on issues such as pension reform, social protection programs for women and children, and research and development. Under her leadership, the number of free early child-care centers for low-income families tripled and some 3,500 child-care centers were completed around the country.

Michelle Bachelet’s ministerial portfolios in the Chilean Government include Minister of Defense in which position she introduced gender policies intended to improve the conditions of women in the military and police forces; and Minister of Health in which she implemented health care reform and improved attention to primary care facilities with the aim of ensuring better and faster health care response for families.

Multi-lingual in her native Spanish and with varying levels of fluency in English, German, Portuguese and French, Bachelet is a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy.

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (b. September 29, 1951), politically a Social Democrat, was the first woman president of her country. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed her in 2010 to head UN Women [Wikipedia note].

See also Bachelet in:
Bennett, Carolyn LaDelle. Women’s Work and Words altering World Order

International Women’s Day
The United Nations has observed International Women’s Day on March 8 since 1975.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began its March 8 celebration of International Women’s Day. In December of 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

UN System Observances for International Women’s Day 2013 ─ Official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2013: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.”

Events: International Women’s Day 2013: Official UN Observance
10:00-12:00, Eastern Standard Time, March 8, Conference Room 2, North Lawn Building, United Nations Headquarters, New York, webcast live at

Related UN-system IWD Events Worldwide
Monday, March 4: 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations Headquarters, New York: The 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women extends March 4 to March 15 at United Nations headquarters. The priority theme focuses on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Ryszard Kapuściński

The American edition of Ryszard Kapuściński’s Shah of Shahs, issued in the United States in 1985 by the San Diego publishers, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, in the translation of William R. Brand (b. 1953) and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand, was censored—by having references to CIA involvement in the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s prime minister Mossadegh (or about 15 pages) excised.

The censorship of the American edition, ironic in a book that deals in part with the terror of pervasive censorship unleashed on the people of Iran by the Shah’s security agency, the SAVAK, has never been satisfactorily explained…

Respected Polish journalist Monika Olejnik (b. 1956) attributes this instance of censorship to Kapuściński himself ─ who was allegedly motivated by his own scruples.

Some of Ryszard Kapuściński’s works available in English
Shah of Shahs (Szachinszach) (1982)
Imperium (Imperium) (1993)
The Shadow of the Sun (2001)
Our Responsibilities in a Multicultural World (2002)
Encountering the Other: The Challenge for the Twenty-first Century—The Inaugural Lecture of the Thirty-six[th] Annual School of Polish Language and Culture (Jagiellonian University, July 5, 2005)
I Wrote Stone: The Selected Poetry of Ryszard Kapuściński (2007)
The Cobra's Heart (extract from The Shadow of the Sun) (2007)
The Other (Ten Inny) (2008) – A collection of the author's lectures

Ryszard Kapuściński (b. into poverty in Pińsk—now in Belarus—in the Kresy Wschodnie or eastern borderlands of the second Polish Republic, March 4, 1932 - d. January 23, 2007) was a Polish journalist and writer whose dispatches in book form brought him global reputation. He was also a photographer and poet.

He is reported to have said that he “felt at home in Africa as ‘food was scarce there too and everyone was also barefoot.’”


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women:!/bennetts2ndstudy
Posted by Bennett's Study at 5:27 PM
Labels: International Women's Day, Kapuściński, leadership defined, Michelle Bachelet, progress redefined, UN Women, Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, women leaders, Women's work and words altering world order

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JaniceW's picture

Women leadership

It is so reassuring to me that Bachelet is heading UN Women and our former Prime Minister, Helen Clarke, is heading the UN Development Programme. With more women leaders shaping policy, we have a greater chance of seeing more investment in women and girls, and more women living freely and equally – which directly translates into improved quality of life for all.

Thank you for your always insightful posts. They are compelling and provocative reads.

Thanks for your comments and of course I agree, up to a point.

Not all women are supportive of women or human rights, nonviolence or peace; and not all women have the character or sensibility, courage or demonstrated, prerequisite competence (no matter their celebrity or popularity, power or connections or what Ivy League university they graduated from). Such women, in my opinion, should not hold high positions, powerful positions either at the United Nations or in individual governments. On these criteria and current examples of women who should not have been in leadership positions are: former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; and current U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.

There were and are an abundance of women in the United States who could have ably met what I consider critical criteria: pro- women, human rights, nonviolence, peace together with essential moral character and sensibility, respect for the rule of law, courage and competence. Regrettably these women were not chosen by the government in Washington.

Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett-author, independent journalist - Bennett's Study
Latest book: No Land an Island No people apart

JaniceW's picture

Yes, you are right

Irregardless of sex, the person must be qualified to assume a leadership position where the agenda is fair and just. As you say, not all women meet that criteria, in the same way that men also do not. Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated over and over again that qualifications are just part of the criteria reviewed in an appointment (whether it be in the US or in other countries) and undue weight is placed on personal connections, Ivy League college, and celebrity.

Bennett's picture

As are you, Jan

Yes, personal connection, nepotism, personality, any superficial and/or subjective something – thus the state of the world: we are subjected to a bunch of depraved bought-and-sold, incestuously corrupt robots in public office doing anything BUT serving the public good, the universal or global good.

Well, what can I say; I’m a woman who writes – to keep from going insane under the weight of it all. Thanks for responding again. /c

Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett-author, independent journalist - Bennett's Study
Latest book: No Land an Island No people apart

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