Obaid, Thoraya Ahmed
Dr. (Mrs.) Nafis Sadik is the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General. On her appointment in 1987, she became the first woman to head one of the United Nations’ major voluntarily-funded programmes.
As chief executive of UNFPA, the world’s largest source of multilateral assistance to population programmes with an income level of approximately $307 million in 1998, Dr. Sadik directs a worldwide staff of about 800. UNFPA provides assistance for over 140 countries and territories throughout the world. Since its inception in 1969, cumulative pledges through 1998 totalled over $4 billion from a total of 171 donors.
Dr. Sadik has consistently called attention to the importance of addressing the needs of women, and of involving women directly in making and carrying out development policy. This is particularly important for population policies and programmes. At UNFPA, 44 per cent of the professional staff are women. The Fund has promoted more women to leadership positions than any other part of the United Nations system.
In June 1990, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Dr. Sadik Secretary-General of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), 1994.
From 1954 to 1963, Dr. Sadik served as civilian medical officer in charge of women’s and children’s wards in various Pakistani armed forces hospitals, directing a medical staff of up to 50 officers. In 1964, she was appointed Head of the Health Section of the Government’s Planning Commission, responsible for developing, preparing and evaluating a five-year health and family planning programme as part of the nation’s overall development plan.
In 1966, Dr. Sadik became Director of Planning and Training of the Pakistan Central Family Planning Council, the Government agency charged with carrying out the national family planning programme. She was appointed Deputy Director-General in 1968 and Director-General in 1970. Dr. Sadik joined UNFPA in October 1971, and became Chief of the Programme Division in 1973. From 1982 until 1987, she was Assistant Executive Director.
Dr. Sadik was the first female recipient of the Hugh Moore Award in 1976, named after a pioneer in the United States credited with calling attention to the world population crisis. She was cited for her leadership in the family planning field as well as for her leadership in encouraging other women to find careers in the population field. Dr. Sadik is a member of the Association of Pakistani Physicians in the United States. She was elected to the 1988 Fellowship ad eundem of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom. Dr. Sadik was the President of the Society for International Development (SID) for the period 1994-1997.