As its people of the year, Time magazine recently named the Silence Breakers — people who have spoken against sexual harassment and launched the hashtag #MeToo into an international phenomenon with more than seven million hits on social media.
Just before the announcement, more than 230 women who work in national security for the United States, from former ambassadors to military personnel, signed a public letter protesting sexual harassment, under the hashtag #MeTooNatSec.
The United Nations has not been immune to the problem, either, yet people seem far too afraid to publicly voice their stories, let alone hint at them, as the inner culture of the UN can be punishing and retaliatory. The extent of sexual harassment, however, was described as “pervasive,” with one woman describing the atmosphere as “Mad Men” territory.
Late in December, Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement on sexual harassment, only days after this reporter asked for a comment from the UN about the phenomenon at the institution. In the statement, Guterres reiterated his commitment to a zero-tolerance policy across the UN system, saying that a chief-executive-board task force, led by Jan Beagle, who heads UN management, will submit a report on the problem by the spring.