Croatian politician Vesna Pusic, hoping to become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, says being a woman plays a key role in her election bid by shining a light on her career of gender equality activism, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

The former Croatian foreign minister is one of a quartet of female candidates vying to become the first woman to hold the U.N.'s top office.

"I am not a gender-neutral candidate," Pusic said on Wednesday at an appearance at the International Peace Institute.

"It's not about you, personally. It's about changing the way institutions function and societies think," she said.

Another contender, Helen Clark, New Zealand's former prime minister, played down the gender aspect when she announced her candidacy this week, saying she has "never sought election as a woman."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term finishes at the end of 2016. The members of the U.N. General Assembly vote on a new leader later this year.

Kicking off the race late last year, the presidents of the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly told member states in a letter that they were "encouraged to consider presenting a woman."

Pusic stressed her activism on gender equality and her support for quotas to place women in political institutions.

But asked how she would increase female representation in the upper echelons of the UN, she did not mention quotas but said: "I would look for the best," the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

Eight candidates so far are campaigning to succeed Ban.

Along with Pusic and Clark, they are Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, head of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Natalia Gherman, Moldova's former foreign minister.

The men are former Slovenian President Danilo Turk; former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who is also a former Portuguese prime minister; former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim and Montenegro Foreign Minister Igor Luksic.

The candidates' homeland also is likely play a role. The U.N.'s top job traditionally rotates among regions, with Eastern Europe next on the list, the Thomson Reuters Foundation said.

Pusic expressed support for increased scrutiny of U.N. peacekeepers following a spate of allegations of sexual abuse.

Next week, U.N. member states are scheduled to grill each candidate in a series of informal public meetings.

The International Peace Institute is a New York-headquartered international think tank promoting peace, security and sustainable development.

Related stories

Croatia's candidate for UN Secretary-General interviewed

Pusic: Meeting with PM was very good

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.