Obaid, Thoraya

Obaid, Thoraya
▪ 2002

      On Jan. 1, 2001, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid became the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the first Saudi national to head a UN agency. The UNFPA, the largest internationally funded source of population assistance, actively promoted equality between the sexes and universal education and health care, especially better reproductive health care for women. Its campaigns to battle AIDS, expand the availability of reproductive information and services for adolescents, and end violence against women, including female genital mutilation, met with resistance in many conservative areas of the world, especially those that were reluctant to address such concomitant issues as homosexuality, teen sexuality, and women's rights. It was believed that Obaid, a Muslim woman (like her predecessor, Nafis Sadik of Pakistan), would be sensitive to Muslim concerns and serve as a role model in Muslim countries where the status of women was still low. In Saudi Arabia, for example, where women could not appear in public unless covered from head to toe, were not permitted to drive, and could not travel without written permission from male relatives, Obaid's success and visibility contributed to changes in government policy, including an agreement by the government to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Indeed, the Saudi government fully supported Obaid's candidacy for the UNFPA position. Obaid herself had expressed the hope that she could, from her own personal experience, tell less-developed countries, especially in Muslim societies, that educating women, allowing them to work, and enabling them to make choices about their lives were Islamic rather than un-Islamic in nature.

      Obaid was born on March 2, 1945, in Baghdad, Iraq. Her parents were devout Muslims, and they took as a literal command the instruction in the Qurʾan's very first surah— “Read.” They believed in educating their daughter as well as their sons and enrolled her in an Islamic school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when she was three. Because education for girls was limited in Saudi Arabia at the time, Obaid was sent in 1951 to the American College for Girls in Cairo. She later became the first Saudi woman to receive a government scholarship to study in the United States. She earned a B.A. (1966) in English literature from Mills College, Oakland, Calif., and M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. (1974) degrees from Wayne State University, Detroit. In 1975 Obaid began working for the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and she became that agency's deputy executive secretary in 1993. In 1998 she was appointed director of the UNFPA's Division for Arab States and Europe. Her 25 years of experience at the UN and her demonstrated commitment to empowering women moved UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to describe her as “the ideal candidate” to head the UNFPA.

Amy R. Tao

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thoraya Ahmed Obaid — Thoraya Obaid 2009 Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, une diplomate saoudienne, est la Directrice exécutive du Fonds des Nations unies pour la population (FNUAP) à l ONU et aussi membre du Cabinet du Secrétaire général des Nations unies. Elle est la première… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Thoraya Obaid — Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid is the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and Under Secretary General of the United Nations [http://www.unfpa.org/ed/index.htm] . Obaid is from Saudi Arabia. The United Nations Population Fund is the… …   Wikipedia

  • Obaid (name) — Musa Amer Obaid, (born Moses Kipkirui 18 April 1985 in Kenya) is a Qatari runner and steeplechaser Thoraya Ahmed Obaid of Saudi Arabia, Under Secretary General of the United Nations Sharmeen Obaid Chinay (born 1978) is a journalist from Pakistan …   Wikipedia

  • Soraya Obaid — Thoraya Obaid 2009 Soraya (Thoraya) Obaid, ist eine Untergeneralsekretärin der Vereinten Nationen und die Exekutivdirektorin des Bevölkerungsfonds der Vereinten Nationen. Obaid stammt aus Saudi Arabien und bekleidet das Amt der Exekutivdirektorin …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • List of United Nations-related topics — This is a list of topics related to United Nations.United Nations* United Nations * United Nations System * United Nations Compensation Commission * 1996 shelling of Qana * 2005 World Summit * 2006 United Nations Security Council election * 2010… …   Wikipedia

  • Criticism of religion — Part of a series on Irreligion …   Wikipedia

  • United Nations Population Fund — Infobox UN name = United Nations Population Fund type = Specialised Agency acronyms = UNFPA head = Thoraya Ahmed Obaid status = Active established = 1969 website = [http://www.unfpa.org www.unfpa.org] The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)… …   Wikipedia

  • FNUAP — Fonds des Nations unies pour la population Fonds des Nations unies pour la population Organe de l ONU Type d organisation Fonds de l ONU Acronymes FNUAP, UNFPA …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Fonds Des Nations Unies Pour La Population — Organe de l ONU Type d organisation Fonds de l ONU Acronymes FNUAP, UNFPA …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Fonds de population des Nations Unies — Fonds des Nations unies pour la population Fonds des Nations unies pour la population Organe de l ONU Type d organisation Fonds de l ONU Acronymes FNUAP, UNFPA …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.