By Razeena Raheem
UNITED NATIONS. 21 July 2023 (IDN) — A senior UN staffer, Shihana Mohamed—who is also a dedicated human rights activist and a strong advocate of gender empowerment—is one of 20 Fellows in the 2023 class of the “Public Voices Fellowship on Advancing the Rights of Women and Girls”.
The US-based fellowship is part of The OpEd Project’s Public Voices initiative “to change who writes history, and Equality Now’s mission to create a just world for all women and girls.”
Equality Now, in partnership with The OpEd Project and Senior Advisor Ann MacDougall, announced last week the 20 Fellows in the class of 2023.
Selected from an impressive pool of highly qualified applicants residing across the United States, the Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of experience and unique perspectives encompassing a broad range of disciplines.
A Sri Lankan national, Mohamed is a founding member and one of the Coordinators of the United Nations Asia Network for Diversity & Inclusion (UN-ANDI). Together with like-minded colleagues in the UN system, she founded UN-ANDI in 2021 to promote a more diverse and inclusive culture and mindset within the UN.
She received a recognition certificate from UN Women in 2021 for her outstanding achievements in Standards of Conduct, Diversity and Inclusion for establishing UN-ANDI.
Mohamed is a Human Resources Policies Officer at the UN’s International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) based in New York. She also functions as the Manager of ICSC’s Global Mobility and Hardship Scheme.
Her portfolio includes gender/geographical balance and diversity of the workforce in the UN system under the standing mandate from the UN General Assembly. She is a member of the UN Global Network of Gender Focal Points and Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality.
Her professional career spans over 20 years with the UN in a broad range of thematic areas, including human resources management, gender issues and advancement of women, private sector development, sustainable development, transport and infrastructure development, and socio-economic studies.
Prior to joining the UN, she worked in the fields of teaching, research, and consultancy at the national, regional, and international level in development.
She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, USA, as well as a Master’s in Transportation Engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, and a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
The other recipients of the fellowship include Absa Samba, Global Engagement Officer, International Program in Public Health Leadership – University of Washington; Amy Hutchinson, Global Director of Development, Equality Now; Ankita Panda Senior Program Officer, The Asia Foundation; Autumn Perkey, Ph.D candidate in International Relations and American politics, the University of Maryland; Bahar Aldanmaz Fidan, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Boston University; Co-founder, Konuşmamız Gerek; Corie Pauling, President and CEO, Alumni Association, University of Michigan;
Diane O’Leary, Full Professor in Philosophy, part-time, at University of Maryland Global Campus, and Independent Researcher; Gemma Bulos, Director, Global Women’s Water Initiative, and Director of Kravis Lab for Social Impact, Claremont McKenna College; Ivonne Roman, Co-Founder, 30×30 Initiative; Jessica Singh is Founder, Sukhayu Wellness and the Center for Health and Wellness Coaches;
Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO, Ascend Ventures/Black Innovation Lab; Kwolanne Felix, Writing Fellow, Truthout; Manail Anis, Educator, Entrepreneur and AI/technology ethicist; Visiting Faculty, Princeton University; Mary Hansel, Human Rights Lawyer; Miriam Warren Chief Diversity Officer, Yelp;
Nicole Kyle, Writer, Creator, and Co-Host, I Also Want Money podcast; Olivia Storz, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Survivor Fund Hub and Program Specialist, Futures Without Violence; and So’Phelia Morrow Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan School of Social Work.
In an interview with IDN, Mohamed said: “My sincere gratitude goes to The OpEd Project and Equality Now for selecting me for the US 2023 Public Voices Fellowship on Advancing the Rights of Women and Girls”.
“It is a great honour to have this opportunity to work towards achieving gender equality in all realms – an area that is very much close to my heart and to which I have been contributing for over 20 years.
During my fellowship, I will also try to focus on intersectionality of race and gender, based on my own experiences, in particular, at the UN. Racism is deep-rooted in the UN system with multiple forms and dimensions. There are also structural issues in the policies of the UN system enabling this organizational culture.”
She said surveys reveal that UN personnel of Asian descent face specific forms of bias and discrimination. The issue of racism is further aggravated by the fact that Asia is unfairly represented in the UN while being the biggest continent in the world.
In organizations of the UN system, staff from Asia-Pacific States constitute only about 19 percent in the Professional and higher categories. Among staff in the senior positions, only 16 percent were from Asia-Pacific States.
“These facts have, directly and indirectly, affected my rights and my opportunities as a woman from Asia working in the UN, including not receiving appropriate recognition of my credentials, my experiences, my contributions, my voice, my perspectives, and my ideas. There are a substantial number of staff members in the UN system with similar experiences.”
“Working towards advancing the rights of women and girls is a challenging endeavour with its inherent complexities. I am very much looking forward to this unique experience to learn, share and contribute,” she declared. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Image source: Equality Now
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