On May 9, UNFPA's former Executive Director, Ms. Thoraya A. Obaid, was awarded the Union Medal by Union Theological Seminary, making her the first Muslim - and the first Muslim woman - to receive it. The Union Medal, the Seminary's highest award, was instituted in 1981 as a means of honouring persons whose lives reflect the mission of the Seminary in the world. Recent medalists include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, William Sloane Coffin, Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, Bill and Judith Moyers, and Anne Hale Johnson.
In their introduction, Union Theological Seminary's President, Ms. Serene Jones, and the Dean, Ms. Daisy Machado, noted Ms. Obaid's "focus on a culturally sensitive approach to development work, linking gender, universal values of human rights and values of the human worth promoted by all religions and found in all cultures". They praised her 'vision' and 'courage' to ensure that women's health was addressed from within the complex - and necessary - framework of human rights, gender equality and cultural sensitivity.