Ban pays tribute to late women’s rights champion Helvi Sipilä

20 May 2009
Helvi Sipilä (right) with Margaret Bruce, Chief of the Status of Women Section, Division of Human Rights in this 23 February 1967 file photo

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to Helvi Sipilä of Finland, a renowned women’s rights advocate and former United Nations official, who passed away on 15 May at the age of 94.

“Ms. Sipilä powerfully demonstrated the effectiveness of women’s leadership,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“She has left a legacy which serves as a reminder that no effort should be spared to ensure the equal participation of women in decision-making in all areas of life.”

The “lifelong champion of the rights of women” served as Secretary-General of the first World Conference on Women in 1975 in Mexico City.

She was also the first woman to hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General at the UN, where she served in different capacities for many years, including as the Chairperson of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Ms. Sipilä remained active after retiring from the UN and was the first woman to run for president in Finland in 1982.


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.