Angela King, leading advocate for women's equality and top U.N. official on women's advancement, dies

Tuesday, February 6th 2007, 9:49 pm
By: News On 6

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Angela E.V. King, a Jamaican diplomat who became a leading advocate for women's equality and the first special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on women's advancement, has died, the U.N. said Tuesday.

King died from complications of breast cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center on Monday, her former husband Wilton James said. She was 68 years old.

During a 38-year career at the United Nations, King led efforts to end discrimination against women and promote gender equality within the organization and globally. She was also one of a handful of women to lead a U.N. peacebuilding mission _ in South Africa from 1992-94 during the country's first democratic, non-racial elections.

King participated in U.N. conferences to promote women's rights in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980, and Beijing in 1995 where world leaders adopted a wide-ranging blueprint to achieve equality for women.

In 1997, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed her to a new post as his special adviser on gender issues and advancement of women with the rank of assistant secretary-general to help ensure U.N.-wide implementation of the Beijing platform.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who succeeded Annan on Jan. 1, called King ``a fervent champion of the equality of women and men, and women's enjoyment of their human rights,'' U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement.

``Angela King led the United Nations' efforts for the empowerment of women with knowledge, passion and courage as the U.N. worked to translate into practice the Beijing platform for action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,'' Montas said.

Shortly before she retired in 2004, King warned that without acceptance of women as full partners in critical areas such as peace negotiations and economic development, ``there will be no true democracy, sustaintable peace and enjoyment of human rights.''

At the time of her death, she was working on a project to re-launch the global fight for women's equality.

She is survived by a son.

Funeral rites will be held in Jamaica, Wilton James said.