UNITED NATIONS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- UN Women's chief Michelle Bachelet has decided to step down, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed in a statement issued here late Friday.
"Ms. Michelle Bachelet has informed me of her intention to step down as executive director of UN Women," Ban said in the statement issued by his spokesman.
Widely predicted as a possible Chilean presidential candidate in 2014, Bachelet apparently has an eye on the job.
Bachelet, the former Chilean president, is the first UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, which was established on July 2, 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly.
Bachelet, who was born in Santiago on Sept. 29, 1951, is a pediatrician and public health expert.
The resignation apparently takes place immediately since there was no effective date.
UN Women brought together a variety of UN agencies and departments and consolidated them under one roof. The agency bills itself as the UN "entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women."
"I would like to express my tremendous gratitude for her outstanding service," Ban said of Bachelet, who took up her pioneering position at UN headquarters in 2010. "Michelle Bachelet was the right person in the right job at the right time."
Bachelet recently topped a poll in Chile of possible presidential candidates in the South American country, but when asked about her intentions to join the race, she said, "We'll talk in March," the Santiago Times reported in January.
The resignation announcement came shortly after Ban said in a separate statement to welcome the outcome of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and an agreement reached on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
Apparently, Bachelet sought a successful outcome of the annual session before leaving her post.
Ending a speech to the CSW as the commission was concluding its annual session here Friday, Bachelet said, "This will be my last CSW. I am going back to my country." She did not elaborate.
An announcement from the spokesman for the UN chief said Friday that Ban "commends the leadership of UN member states to take action to prevent violence and provide justice and services to survivors."
"The secretary-general thanks all participants, including representatives of governments, inter-governmental organizations, civil society and colleagues of the United Nations," the statement continued. "He expresses special appreciation to UN Women and Executive Director Michelle Bachelet for their strong support to the Commission to ensure a successful outcome."
Within 10 minutes, the spokesman's office announced her totally unexpected resignation announcement which lauded her and gave no hint of any differences between the two.
"Her visionary leadership gave UN Women the dynamic start it needed," the Ban statement said. "Her fearlessness in advocating for women's rights raised the global profile of this key issue. Her drive and compassion enabled her to mobilize and make a difference for millions of people across the world.
"Her record of achievement includes new steps to protect women and girls from violence, new advances on health, and a new understanding that women's empowerment must be at the core of all we do at the United Nations," he said. "This is a stellar legacy, and I am determined to build on it.