New Study Reveals Multilateral Organizations Undervalue Women Leaders

Since 1945, women have held only 12% of the top jobs at 33 of the world’s largest multilateral institutions, and more than a third of those bodies, including all four major development banks, have never been led by a woman, according to a new study released on Monday.

According to the report prepared by GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion, an advocacy group comprised of 62 current and former senior women leaders, five of the bodies have only had one female president in their history, including the current head of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.

The study, which will be released during this week’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, calls for gender equality at all levels of multilateral organizations, from field offices to headquarters, as well as secretariats and governing bodies.

“The truth is that numbers matter,” said Maria Fernanda Espinosa, a former Ecuadorian foreign minister who served as president of the U.N. General Assembly from 2018-2019.

“We are 50% of the world’s population so it’s a demographic justice thing, to start with,” she told Reuters in an interview on Friday. “But I also believe that women bring this combination of leadership, wisdom and empathy, and sometimes, an even greater understanding of what is happening in the world.”

The 33 institutions studied had 382 leaders since 1945, but only 47 were women, according to the report. Moreover, despite recent progress, women currently lead only one-third of institutions.

GWL Voices said it would release a more comprehensive version of the report in September, which would include an examination of the 33 institutions’ senior management teams and governing bodies. It stated that it is advocating for governance reforms that will “accelerate the transition to gender-balanced leadership.”

The report named 13 institutions, including the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, that have never had a female president since the end of World War II.

Espinosa criticized the United States for last month’s nomination of former Mastercard Chief Executive Ajay Banga for the position, despite calls from her organization and other World Bank member states for a female president. The United States is the largest shareholder in the World Bank and has historically chosen its president.

Espinosa stated that she was in favor of having someone like Banga, who was raised, educated, and spent a large portion of his early career in India, lead the World Bank, but there were countless other women with comparable training and experience.

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, HR & Organization, Regulations & Legal, Strategy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: