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Michelle Bachelet, the head of the United Nations agency promoting the rights of women and gender equality, has told Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that she is stepping down after two years in the job. Bachelet, a former Chilean president, is likely to run for president of her country again in elections this fall. She made the announcement about leaving her post as the first executive director of UN Women just as a 10-day conference on ending and preventing violence against women and girls finished March 15. Thousands of women worldwide attended the event, and an outcome document was wrestled to completion after much debate among regional blocs.
Speculation over Bachelet’s departure has been rife for the last year, at least, but she remained quiet on the matter publicly. (She had been executive director for two years.) Polls in her country show her favored to win should she run for president. She was president of Chile from 2006-2010.
The UN secretary-general expressed his “tremendous gratitude for her outstanding service” as the chief of UN Women, an entity created in 2010 to oversee the world body’s programs on women, including their full participation in global affairs. “Michelle Bachelet was the right person in the right job at the right time,” Ban said in a statement.
“Her visionary leadership gave UN Women the dynamic start it needed,” he continued. “Her fearlessness in advocating for women’s rights raised the global profile of this key issue. Her drive and compassion enabled her to mobilize and make a difference for millions of people across the world.” Bachelet’s achievements, he said, include new steps to protect women and girls from violence, new advances on health and a new understanding that women’s empowerment must be at the core of what the UN does.