Dr. Natalia Kanem has been appointed Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, by Secretary-General António Guterres. She holds the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.
Dr. Kanem, a Panamanian, is the Fund’s fifth Executive Director. She had been serving as Acting Executive Director since June, and as Deputy Executive Director, Programme, since July 2016.
She was also the UNFPA Representative in the United Republic of 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 laude graduate of Harvard University in history and science.
“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,” Dr. Kanem said.
“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 said. “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.”
Dr. Kanem’s appointment is for four years.