In a world where real women are breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings, the United Nations has fallen short, choosing a comic book character as its Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Seeking to promote the upward mobility of women and girls, the U.N. bypassed the chance to elect one of seven women candidates for Secretary General. The U.N. instead appointed Wonder Woman to be the woman to “lead by example”.
The United Nations has pledged to commit to the advancement of women but is behind on its own initiatives to embody gender equity within their leadership positions. Countless countries advocated for a women to be elected this year as Secretary General. Among the seven women candidates were Irina Bokora, Helen Clark, Kristalina Geogieva, Natalia Gherman, Susana Malcorra, Vesna Pusic and Christiana Figueres. The Security Council instead chose to elect Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal. There has yet to be a women leader in the United Nations system and among the senior leadership jobs nine of them were appointed to men.
Wonder Woman has long been considered a feminist icon and symbol by many. She undeniably has had immense cultural impact and enhanced the platform of what it means to be a superhero. However, women and girls need real life role models in addition to those found within the pages of books and on screen.
We are experiencing what can be referred to as a stalled revolution in terms of the professional advancement of women in the workforce. In the United States alone, women make up 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, yet men continue to hold leadership positons at disproportionate rates. According to American Progress, women “are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.”
In order to truly promote women’s equity, we must embody it in positions of leadership and power. Female leaders are essential for motivating young women to reach their fullest potential and encourage them to aspire to be a leader themselves. In the words of Marie Wilson, “You can’t be, what you can’t see”.