UN Women has a new director. On Wednesday 18 August, the Mauritian Pramila Patten was appointed as the new acting Director of UN Women, replacing the South African Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who had held that position since 2013. The Mauritian will serve as the interim director of the UN organization responsible for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment until the appointment of the new Executive Director.
Originally from Mauritius, Pramila Patten is the new Interim Director of UN Women. The lawyer, who has been the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and UN Under-Secretary-General since 2017, has extensive experience in gender equality and women’s empowerment.
From 2003 to 2017, she was a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Vice-Chair of the Committee. She was also chair of the working group on general recommendation No. 30 on “Women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations”. She has also been a member of several groups and projects, such as the Global Study on the Implementation of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, as well as the Advisory Group for the Observatory of African Women (AWRO) within the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Long before joining the UN, Pramila Patten held various positions. Admitted to the bar in England, she has been practicing as a lawyer since 1982. In 1986, she returned to her home country where she served as a district judge for one year, from 1987 to 1988. From 1987 to 1992, she was a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Mauritius. In 1995, she took over the management of the Patten & Co Chambers law firm.
She also advocated for women’s rights. From 1993 to 2002, she was notably a member of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch. From 2000 to 2004, she was a consultant to the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Family Welfare in Mauritius.
Trained as a lawyer, Pramila Patten holds a Bachelor and a master’s degree in Law from the University of London and a Diploma in Criminology from Kings College, Cambridge, in England .