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UN General Assembly elects Ecuador minister next president
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces is the fourth woman to lead the 193-member world body in its 73-year history.

  The UN General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly elected Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces as its next president, making her only the fourth woman to lead the 193-member world body in its 73-year history.

She defeated another woman — Honduras’ UN Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake — by 128-62 with two abstentions in the secret-ballot vote.

The current assembly president, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia, announced the results to loud applause, saying, “Frankly, 4 out of 73 is not a record to be proud of, but I’m glad we are getting ourselves on track.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who defeated several female candidates and continues the male domination of the UN’s top post, echoed Lajcak, saying, “We can and we must do better.”

Espinosa Garces expressed hope that gender parity continues to make progress and dedicated her election to “all the women in the world who participate in politics today and who face political and media attacks marked by machismo and discrimination.”

“I would like to pay a special tribute to the women who struggle every day to access jobs on equal terms, to women and girls who are victims of violence, to girls and adolescents who demand access to quality information and education,” she said. “My commitment will always be to them.”

While the presidency of the General Assembly is largely ceremonial, it is also prestigious.

The world body controls the UN budget, adopts treaties, addresses global issues from poverty to climate change, and passes numerous resolutions that while not legally binding almost always reflect global opinion. It is also the U.N. organ where countries large and small can speak _ and the scene of the annual gathering of world leaders in September.
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