February 6, 2007
Angela E.V. King, a Jamaican diplomat who became a leading advocate for women"s equality and the first special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on women"s advancement, has died, the U.N. said.
During a 38-year career at the United Nations, King led efforts to end discrimination against women and promote gender equality within the organization and globally. She was also one of a handful of women to lead a U.N. peacebuilding mission — in South Africa from 1992-94 during the country"s first democratic, non-racial elections.
King participated in U.N. conferences to promote women"s rights in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980, and Beijing in 1995, where world leaders adopted a wide-ranging blueprint to achieve equality for women.
In 1997, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed her to a new post as his special adviser on gender issues and advancement of women with the rank of assistant secretary-general to help ensure U.N.-wide implementation of the Beijing platform.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who succeeded Annan on Jan. 1, called King "a fervent champion of the equality of women and men, and women"s enjoyment of their human rights," U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement.
"Angela King led the United Nations efforts for the empowerment of women with knowledge, passion and courage as the U.N. worked to translate into practice the Beijing platform for action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women," Montas said.
As the secretary-general"s special adviser, King organized a special session of the General Assembly in 2000 to review progress on implementation the Beijing blueprint. She pressed for an end to discrimination against women and the promotion of women to top U.N. jobs.
King also played a key role with women"s rights groups in promoting adoption of a Security Council resolution in 2000 that called for women to be included in decision-making positions at every level of peacemaking and peacebuilding. It also called for increased protection of women and girls during war and prosecution of those who commit rape and other crimes against them.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, King received a B.A. from the University of the West Indies, an M.A. from the University of London, and did further graduate studies at New York University.
She was one of the first two women foreign service officers posted to Jamaica"s U.N. Mission after the country"s independence from Britain in 1962. She joined the U.N. Secretariat in 1966, working in recruitment, human resources and promotion of equality between men and women.
King served as director of the Division for the Advancement of Women in the Department for Economic and Social Affairs from February 1996 until she became Annan"s special adviser on women in March 1997.
Shortly before she retired in 2004, King warned that without acceptance of women as full partners in critical areas such as peace negotiations and economic development, "there will be no true democracy, sustainable peace and enjoyment of human rights."
by UN Commission for the Status of Women