Dr. Natalia Kanem

Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

    Dr. Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Dr. Kanem joined the United Nations in 2014 as UNFPA Representative in the United Republic of Tanzania, and served as Deputy Executive Director in charge of programmes from 2016 until her appointment as Executive Director in 2017. Previously, she served as founding president of ELMA Philanthropies, Inc., senior associate of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies, and as Ford Foundation Deputy Vice-President for peace and social justice programmes in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and North America. Dr. Kanem holds a medical degree from Columbia University in New York, a master’s degree in Public Health, with specializations in epidemiology and preventive medicine, from the University of Washington in Seattle and a bachelor’s degree in history and science from Harvard College.

    5:05pm – 6:05pm EAT

    Monday, 8 March 2021 Day 1

    Breaking Barriers: Gender-inclusive health and leadership in Africa

    Hosted by Amref Health Africa

    Women’s health is vital to advance broader health and development goals across Africa, yet women themselves – especially African women – are underrepresented in leadership and decision-making across global and national health institutions, while women’s health is often deprioritized or underfunded compared to other health issues. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that gains made in women’s health are being threatened, especially when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH).

     

    Taking place on International Women’s Day, this session will elevate the discourse on women in global health – focusing on both women as leaders and women as beneficiaries of health programs and funding. The session will provide a platform to highlight the vital role that women leaders have played in addressing health challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic – from policymaking and technical leadership to scientific research and development. It will also shine a spotlight on women’s involvement in health policies and decision-making (particularly for women’s health, SRHR and MNCH) as well as the gaps in women’s leadership and influence that must be addressed. Conversations will encourage greater collaboration and coordination among stakeholders around advancing a gender-equitable approach to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and reiterate the need to prioritize funding, policies and programs that meet the health needs of women and girls, as part of countries’ UHC plans and investments.

     

    The moderator will also engage the speakers to discuss the importance of dismantling barriers for young women leaders. Speakers will be asked to share personal experiences and insights of the barriers they faced (or continue to face) in their careers, how they have overcome gender barriers, why these challenges remain, and what women leaders and their allies can do to help change the playing field for the next generation of women leaders.