Outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is “high time” for the world body to elect a woman as its next leader, AP reported on Tuesday. Ban said women comprise half the global population and need to be “given equal opportunities”.

“We have many distinguished and eminent women leaders in national governments or other organisations,” the South Korean statesman said at an event in Los Angeles last week. He added that the next leader of the UN needs to have a “clear vision for the world of the future” as well as the “integrity and commitment” to uphold human rights. He further said the decision on who would be the next secretary-general was “up to member states”. Ban also praised the UN General Assembly for holding its first-ever public hearings for all the candidates looking to replace him.

Eleven candidates, including five women, are in contention to succeed Ban. However, in two informal straw polls held by the UN Security Council prior to Ban’s remarks, the highest-ranked woman reached third place. Both polls were won by former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, also a former UN refugee chief. The UNSC has at least three more such polls scheduled in the next few weeks. The next one will be held on August 29.