Monday, 18 January 2021

UN in your language

Empowering the “SDG Generation”

Dr Kanem intw pic

“The world needs UNFPA like never before” according to Dr. Natalia Kanem in a discussion with Caroline Petit, Deputy Director of UNRIC.

The Panamanian was recently appointed Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. She replaces Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin who passed-away last June. Dr. Kanem stressed the work that still needs to be done, as well as her commitment to consolidate the recent gains made by UNFPA.

In the context of European Week of Action for Girls between the 9 and the 13 October, Dr. Kanem sent out a message to European women and girls: “The solidarity that women have for each other is a crucial part of the human rights equation”, said Dr. Kanem, thanking her audience for their help in tackling gender-based violence.

The Executive Director of UNFPA underlined the persistence of gender dynamics at play in our society, “not only in the house but also at the workplace and in the halls of power”. This reflection shaped her vision of her term as head of the office and highlighted areas where UNFPA wishes to make a big impact.

Tackling female death in childbirth, addressing the demand for family planning services and ending all forms of violence against women and girls are critical for the Population Fund “to equip young women and girls to understand their power”.

Dr. Kanem underlined the value of dialogue as a tool to combat the stigma and shame that prevents girls and women from fulfilling their potential.  She insisted on the importance of strategic partnerships to increase the reach of UNFPA at the international level with the European Union, for example, to launch the recent Spotlight Initiative, but also at the regional and local levels “to help young people to understand the dynamics of sexual health […] and win little wars as well as big wars”.

“The ability to choose one’s destiny is an important part of personhood”, said the new Executive Director of UNFPA, urging young people to fight for gender equality as a way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “It’s something that should be a source of pride for Europe”, concluded Dr. Kanem whilst congratulating Europeans for their consistent support to their sisters in less prosperous regions of the world.


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