In UN, Protests to Nairobi
Post Switch From Woman to Man, Gender Balance Comes Last
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, March 2 -- On a
day the UN called for "greater gender equality and women's
empowerment," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
replaced the female chief of
the UN Office in Nairobi, Tanzanian Anna Tibaijuka, with a German man,
While Ban's Deputy Spokesperson, after two days of questioning
Inner City Press, still declined to confirm the switch, not only
later the UN's Under Secretary General for Management Angela Kane
switch. No rationale for the seeming hypocrisy -- "do as I saw, not as I
do" -- has been offered. The local UN Staff Union has protested in
writing, and now prepares an in-person protest.
Monday night in UN Headquarters, Inner City Press
chief of the UN's women's agency UNIFEM, for her views on the
switch from Anna
Tibaijuka to Achim Steiner. "I can't answer you," Ms. Alberdi said.
"I am not aware." (No estoy al tanto.)
Inner City Press, after
commenting on the irony to Alberdi as to the woman she'd replaced at
asked Alberdi about Anna Tibaijuka. She replied, "I don't know her."
(No la conozco.) Ms. Alberdi
promised to look into it, and Inner City Press
will publish her response when it is received.
[Alberdi spoke Monday night at the launch of a
Gender Equality Fund,
"housed" at the UN but with the Government of Spain making funding
decisions, along with UNIFEM. Spain gave $67 million for the Fund, as
given other monies in the run-up to Alberdi
being appointed. To some it appears
that the UN's hierarchy is Money, Nationality and only then, Gender
UN's Alberdi, at right, with DSG and Spanish
officials, Steiner switch not shown
Obtaining answers from the UN is becoming more and
Monday, hours after Achim Steiner in an Al Haig moment had announced he
taken over from Ms. Tibaijuka, Ban's Deputy Spokesperson still declined
noon briefing to confirm it. Inner City Press posed the question, and
others, to the USG for Management, Angela Kane, saying that while not
to bother her, no answer was given at the noon briefing.
Ms. Kane responded:
Subj: Re: Hi, Press questions re
UN Office in Nairobi, ICC/Satyam, thnx
From: Angela Kane
To: Inner City Press
CC: Marie Okabe [Deputy Spokesperson]
Sent: 3/2/2009 6:17:15 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
[Q: who is in charge
Mr. Achim Steiner was
designated Director-General of UNON, effective 1 March.
[Q: Does the International Computing
Centre, for any of its work for the UN
Secretariat, use services from Satyam?]
Re ICC, you will have to ask them directly.
[Q: Also, how many individuals
within the Department of Management have you
authorized to be extended beyond their retirement age? What
these individuals work in? And what are the reasons that you have
authorized these individuals to be retained on the payroll beyond their
Re individuals beyond retirement in DM, I have asked for the precise
information, as I have only my own recollection which is
wish we had the ERP system already in place - it would be easier to get
[Q: Finally (for now), about the UN's
arrangements with Aramark, did they
provide for price increases even as commodity prices decline? Is the
contract with Aramark public, can it be viewed? If not, with all due
Re Aramark ( or any other restaurant/coffee shop operation), I have yet
the decline in commodity prices reflected in customer pricing. We
try to hold the line on increases, as I am sure you are well
finally, could you please ask your other questions at the noon
- I just cannot respond to individual queries in view of the heavy
While these same-day answers were appreciated, it
was remembered that
Ban's Special Advisor urged "write positively about Angela Kane," and
herself later said, "write positively about the
Organization." Partial written answers, and no answers at all at
recent UN noon briefing, make writing positively about the UN more
Inner City Press followed up:
these answers. While henceforth all DM questions will be asked at the
briefing, just to follow-up on these, does the response mean that all
UN's contract with Aramark is withheld from the press and public? Will
the OSSG provide the retiree figures? And re UN Office in Nairobi, is
Steiner physically in charge (is there no OIC) and are you aware of the
protest(s) to this change?
Marie, please consider the question whether Satyam does business
for the UN system through the International Computing Center a question
Secretariat's Spokesperson's Office, even for ICT/Mr. Choi.
And so it goes at the UN. We will have more on these
as responses are received.
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