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UN Women's head Michelle Bachelet: A new superhero?

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 12:40 PM
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UN Women's head Michelle Bachelet: A new superhero?
UN Women's head Michelle Bachelet: A new superhero?
he wants more female peacekeepers and an end to violence against women. Meet Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean president and now head of the UN's new women's rights body
Jane Martinson The Guardian,
Friday 22 April 2011

Let it not be said that those wags at the United Nations don't have a sense of humour. Given the task of finding an office for its new women's rights body, the premises managers found some space in the iconic Daily News building otherwise known as the home of Superman.

But now, instead of Clark Kent, the world has Michelle Bachelet taking on the superhuman challenge of redressing gender inequality. Unlike the last son of Krypton, relatively little is known about Bachelet outside her native Chile and the corridors of international diplomacy. And more than 100 days after it was set up, there are still significant questions about UN Women: what exactly will it do, what are its powers, and how it will be financed?

The body takes over from four existing, underfunded and relatively powerless institutions devoted to women's rights, which the UN general council voted to replace after Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, pointed out "study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women". Bachelet, who was Chile's first female head of state, will report directly to the secretary general and should command a start-up budget of $500m (300m) by 2013, double what was available previously though only about 1.6% of total UN funding. But just three months in, there are already disappointing signs of foot-dragging by major donors, including the UK.

UN watchers believe Bachelet, however, may have a better chance than most to cajole and bully her way through UN diplomacy. The daughter of an army general who died after months of torture by Augusto Pinochet's forces, Bachelet was herself tortured before being exiled. She then trained as a doctor and returned to Chile. An avowed atheist, her achievements in office include a controversial decree allowing the morning-after pill to be distributed to women older than 14 years of age without parental consent, policies to abolish shanty towns, and daycare for poor children.

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