Natalia Kanem Becomes UNFPA Executive Director

A substantive Executive Director has now been confirmed to hold sway at the New York headquarters of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with immediate effect.

Dr Natalia Kanem, a Panamanian becomes  the Fund’s fifth Executive Director appointed to replace Nigeria’s Professor Babatunde Osotimehin who passed away last June.

She had been serving as Acting Executive Director since June, and as Deputy Executive Director, Programme, since July 2016.

Dr. Kanem’s appointment was confirmed by Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday and takes immediate effect.

The newly appointed executive director for  equally holds the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.

Prior the appointment,  Kanem was also the UNFPA Representative in Tanzania from 2014 to 2016 and has held senior positions in the Ford Foundation and other non-governmental organizations and institutions.

Dr. Kanem holds a doctor of medicine degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington. She is also a magna cum laudegraduate of Harvard University in history and science.

Accepting the office, she noted,  “I am deeply committed to realizing the UNFPA vision for a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

“As Executive Director, I will focus on pursuing UNFPA’s transformative goals, which are cemented in our new Strategic Plan 2018-2021: ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unintended pregnancies by meeting the demand for family planning, as well as ending gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage, by 2030.”

“The UNFPA mandate has never been more relevant,” she pointed out.

“Our work and partnerships must therefore be even more innovative, ambitious and focused at country level to ensure that we leave no woman or adolescent girl behind”, she added

Kanem’s appointment is for four years.


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