vesna pusić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Tanjug/ Tanja VALIČ/ ik

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.

Latest news

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Messi grabs winner as Barcelona go top with victory over Atletico

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.

Croatian government condemns extremism

The Croatian government on Sunday condemned all forms of extremism and acts of provocative nature aimed against the Serb minority in Vukovar as well as the rally organised by the Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) in Zagreb on Friday.