NYARADZAI Gumbonzvanda, a Zimbabwean, is in the running for the post of executive director of UN Women which fell vacant when the first head, Michelle, Bachelet resigned in March to campaign in the Chilean presidential elections.
According to Global Memo, the deadline for nominations for the post was on Monday and Gumbonzvanda was one of the six nominees.
Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer and the general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA which covers 125 countries, knows what it is like to struggle against poverty, reproductive health rights and violence: she herself comes from a poor family in Magaya village in Murewa district, which lies northeast of Harare.
To her credit, Gumbonzvanda boasts of extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation, including 20 years’ experience on issues of women and children’s human rights, with a special focus on crisis countries.
She served for 10 years with the United Nations, through Unicef and Unifem (now part of UN Women) in Africa and founded Rozaria Memorial Trust in honour of her late mother and in recognition of all unsung heroines in communities.
Recently, Gumbonzvanda served as commissioner for the UN Commission on Information and Accountability on Women and Children’s Health. She is the 2011 recipient of the Human Rights Defenders Award, conferred by the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association, an organisation she served as first co-ordinator during its formative stages.
Other contenders for the post include former Costa Rican Vice-President Rebeca Grynspan; UN Women acting executive director Lakshmi Puri, former special advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy from Sri Lanka; former president of Finland Tarja Halonen; and Canada’s former and first female prime minister Kim Campbell.
According to Global Memo, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s senior appointment team will vet the nominees and present to him a short list of three candidates paving way for interviews and completion of the process possibly within the next three months.
The 2010 vetting process and selection was wrapped up in seven weeks, in part to have the first executive director in place before the General Assembly convened. Last month, John Hendra, associate executive director at UN Women, said the new search could take up to three months.
But if this year’s process is less competitive (less than 25+ candidates as in 2010), a nominee may be announced before the body’s executive board meets at the end of June or shortly thereafter.