UNITED NATIONS - Forty one members, including Pakistan, were elected on Wednesday to the Executive Board of the newly-created UN agency on gender equality and womens empowerment. The elections, held in the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), will enable the new Board to come together prior to the official establishment on 1 January 2011 of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, ow UN Women. Pakistan polled 50 votes in the first election for UN women. Pakistan commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women is based on the vision of the country's founding father Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a press release issued by the Pakistan Mission to the UN said. Pakistan's Constitution guarantees equal rights for women, it said. The 41 board members were selected on the following basis: 10 from Asia, 10 from Africa, 4 from Eastern Europe, 6 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 5 from Western Europe and 6 from contributing countries. Elected from the African Group were Angola, Cape Verde, Congo, Cte dIvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Lesotho, Libya, Nigeria and Tanzania. Besides Pakistan, others elected from Asian States were: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Timor-Leste. IRAN Despite the Asian Group's endorsement, Iran lost 19-31 to Timor-Leste, which joined the contest a few days earlier. Iran's defeat was engineered by the United States and its Western allies in order to isolate the Islamic Republic, diplomats said. The United States organized a global diplomatic effort to block Iran from the board, with its ambassadors approaching dozens of foreign ministries claiming that the Islamic republics human rights record would send the wrong message about the new body. The American ambassador, Susan Rice, was seen working the room before the vote, shaking hands. Weve made no secret of our concern that Iran joining the board of UN Women would have been an inauspicious start to that board, Ms. Rice told reporters afterward. They lost, and they lost handily, she added. The slate that was selected, including the late candidacy of Timor-Leste, is one that is largely comprised of countries that are committed to womens rights and have a good record of support of womens rights and human rights. Encouraged by the United States and several human rights organizations, Timor-Leste, stepped forward a week ago to contest what had been an uncontested slate of 10 countries, one for each Asian seat on the board. Asked about poor human rights record of Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, Ms. Rice said, I am not going to deny that there were several countries that are going to join the board of UN Women that have less than stellar records on womens rights, indeed human rights. A member of the Iranian delegation accused the United States of playing childish political games and said that even without a board seat, his country would remain active on UN Women. They misuse human rights for their political ends; that is sad, said Eshagh al-Habib, the deputy permanent representative. He rejected the argument that Iran did not deserve a seat for its human rights record, arguing that practices like sentencing women to death by stoning for adultery were extremely rare. It is not true; Iran is progressing very fast in the field of human rights, womens rights, he said, with health, education and opportunities to hold political office all expanding for women. Estonia, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine were elected from among the Eastern European States, while Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden were elected from the Western European and Other States. In addition, the Council elected Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada and Peru from the group of Latin American and Caribbean States. The Council also elected Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Kingdom and United States from among the contributing countries, for three-year terms beginning Wednesday. The 35 members elected from the regional groups will serve two-year and three-years, beginning today, as determined by the drawing of lots. Chosen to serve two-year terms were Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cte dIvoire, DRC, El Salvador, Estonia, France, India, Italy, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Tanzania and Timor-Leste. Angola, Cape Verde, China, Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Grenada, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sweden and Ukraine were selected to serve three-year terms. Headed by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, UN Women is the merger of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW). The new agency was established on 2 July by a unanimous vote of the General Assembly to oversee all of the world bodys programmes aimed at promoting womens rights and their full participation in global affairs. One of its goals will be to support the Commission on the Status of Women and other inter-governmental bodies in devising policies. It will also aim to help Member States implement standards, provide technical and financial support to countries which request it, and forge partnerships with civil society. Within the UN, it will hold the world body accountable for its own commitments on gender equality. In carrying out its functions, UN Women will be working with an annual budget of at least $500 million double the current combined resources of the four agencies it comprises.