Vienna, 31 October 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Another visible success for the international women’s network"


Danish woman diplomat to head the UN peace mission in Liberia

Vienna, 31 October 2007 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed Ellen Margrethe Loj, formerly Denmark’s permanent representative in New York, as his new special envoy and head of the UN peace mission in Liberia. "This is the first appointment of a woman to head a UN peace mission for a long time - another visible success of the international women’s network. The special significance of this appointment is also reflected by the fact that in more than 60 years of the UN’s history so far, only five women have held such a position," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

"Considering women when appointing the executives of UN peace missions was one of the key demands expressed at the Women’s Conference in Vienna at the end of May. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has responded swiftly to our request: the deputy positions for the mission posts in Liberia, Lebanon and Sudan are now also held by women," stated the Foreign Minister. Until a few weeks ago, none of the leading positions in the 54 UN peace missions had been occupied by women.

"This is an encouraging step, but others will have to follow. The inclusion of women at all levels of international peace work must become a matter of course. Nor has the European Union any reason for complacency," emphasised Plassnik, referring to the fact that there was not one single woman among the nine EU special envoys. "There is no lack of qualified women. We must continue to actively advocate the idea of women getting access to leading positions in order to allow them to fully contribute their potential and their qualifications," concluded Plassnik.

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