UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that with more and more women being elected to govern their countries, the time is ripe to select a woman to be chief of the United Nations.
Annan made the statement while addressing a symposium on women's participation in decision-making processes, part of the UN's activities in celebration of the International Women's Day.
Annan said the 1995 Beijing Declaration called for women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision- making process and access to power, which are fundamental to the achievement of equality, development and peace.
"More than 10 years after the Beijing Declaration, we still have far to go in ensuring that half the world's population takes up its rightful place in the world's decision-making," he said.
Among the achievements Annan cited were an increased proportion of women in national parliaments more women at the highest level of national decision-making.
"There are now 11 women heads of state or government, in countries on every continent. And three countries -- Chile, Spain and Sweden -- now have gender parity in government," he said.
"In the highest levels of national decision-making, women remain severely under-represented. At current rates of progress, it will be 2025 before we reach an average of 30 percent women in parliament, and 2040 before there is parity," he noted.
Annan urged world governments to consider selecting a women secretary-general for the United Nations.
"I think we should also see a clear message in the overwhelming success of women in presidential elections over the past year: the world is ready for a woman secretary-general," he said.
"Some of my male colleagues are going to kill me, but that's OK, " he joked.
Annan promised that after his second term as the UN chief ends at the end of December, he and his wife Nane would devote quite a bit of their time to the advancement of women and girls' education.
The United Nations has had seven secretaries-general, including Annan, since its founding 60 years ago, but none of them is female. Some non-governmental organizations have called for selecting a woman as Annan's successor.