UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced a new agency - UN Women - headed by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, to oversee all programmes aimed at promoting equality for women.
"Ms Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership, highly honed political skills and uncommon ability to create consensus and focus among UN agencies and many partners in both the public and private sector," Ban said at the UN headquarters in New York.
"I'm confident that under her strong leadership, we can improve the lives of millions of women and girls throughout the world," Ban said of Chile's first female head of state.
He said the creation of UN Women is the fruit of four years of effort to achieve one of his priorities as secretary-general.
The process to select the head of UN Women began shortly after the General Assembly approved the plan for the new agency in July 2009 and a 26-member selection committee proposed three candidates.
Ban chose Bachelet, who the committee unanimously endorsed, he said.
UN Women, set to become operational in January 2011, will merge the UN Development Fund for Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.
The agency's status will be comparable to that of Unicef and Bachelet will hold the rank of deputy secretary-general.