WASHINGTON, D. C. — UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid was presented an award for a lifetime of delivering for women at the close of an intense, three-day show of support for the women of the world.
The award was presented in the final plenary of the Women Deliver II conference by two of the NGO leaders who had interviewed Ms. Obaid before her appointment to head UNFPA: Amy Cohen, former president of Population Action International and Jill Sheffield, the president and founder of the Women Deliver initiative.
A tearful Ms. Obaid, long a proponent of engaging men in efforts to empower women, thanked several men in her life for their support and encouragement, including her father, Ahmed Obaid; King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, whose government awarded her a scholarship to study in the United States (the first given to a Saudi woman); and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who gave her the opportunity to lead UNFPA.
Throughout her career, Ms. Obaid has championed the causes of women's and young people's health and empowerment. Her work focuses on supporting governments to establish programmes to empower women and develop their capacities as citizens with rights and responsibilities. As UNFPA Executive Director, she has introduced a focus on culture to the Fund's development work, linking gender, universal values of human rights and values of the human worth promoted by all religions and found in all cultures.