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A Tribute to Angela King


Angela E.V. King - a life at the United Nations

Angela King's career spanning nearly 38 years at the United Nations can be summed up in the phrase "a champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women". She joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1966 from the Permanent Mission of Jamaica, where she was one of the first two women foreign-service officers posted after Jamaica joined the United Nations and where she worked on human rights and social development.

On 1 March 1997, United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan appointed Ms. King as his Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women at the level of Assistant Secretary-General. As the first UN official to hold this function after its creation in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, Ms. King shaped an ambitious agenda of advocacy, accountability and practical action for gender equality. In this role, Ms. King became the leading advocate for gender equality and promoted the strategy of gender mainstreaming throughout the entire UN system. She also worked on policies to achieve equal opportunities for women within the Secretariat and the system. She chaired the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality.

In 1997, she led an inter-agency mission to Afghanistan to investigate the situation of women under the Taliban regime and to propose guidelines on how to mainstream a gender perspective into the delivery of aid.

Her advocacy and partnership with civil society paved the way for the Security Council's landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security -- the Council's first recognition of women's essential role in peacemaking, peacebuilding and peace negotiations.

In her early years in the Secretariat, she worked in the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs on the Report on the World Social Situation. From there, she moved to the Branch for the Promotion of Equality between Men and Women where she was involved with and participated in the first two United Nations World Conferences on Women in Mexico City in 1975 and in Copenhagen in 1980. Later, she worked in programme planning and coordination and was the first chief of the Central Evaluation Unit.

From 1987 until 1996, Ms. King served in various functions, at the director level, in the Office of Human Resources Management: as Director of Recruitment and Placement and Director of Staff Administration and Training. She was also deputy to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management and Director of the Operational Services Division. Since that time, she worked closely with the Focal Point for the Improvement of the Status of Women in the Secretariat on such issues as special measures for women and policies on sexual harassment, as well as alimony and child support. She represented the Office at the Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995.

From 1992-1994, she was on assignment as Chief of Mission of the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA), which helped to create the conditions for the first democratic non-racial elections in that country. She was only one of six women to have ever headed a United Nations mission on preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding.

In 1996, Ms. King was named Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) of the Department for Economic and Social Affairs. In that post, she had responsibility for managing the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing - a task to which she brought wide experience in the economic, social and political work of the United Nations, and a firm belief in the equality between women and men.

Ms. King was a founding member of the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the United Nations (GERWUN) in the early 1970s, an early expression of her commitment and dedication to women's rights within the United Nations system.

Ms. King held a BA (Hons) in History from the University College of the West Indies, an MA in Educational Sociology and Administration from London University and took further graduate studies in educational sociology at New York University. In 1997, the Government of Jamaica conferred on her the honour of Commander of the Order of Distinction. In November 1999, Ms. King received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of the West Indies. In 2004, she received the first Anglican UN Observer Award for Global Service from the Most Rev. Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan D. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ms. King retired from her long and distinguished career in 2004 and died on 5 February 2007 in New York. She is survived by her son Richard A. James and her former husband and devoted friend, Wylton James.


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