Nafis Sadik – Pakistan

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Dr. Nafis Sadik is currently Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General with additional responsibilities as Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia. She was former the head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She is an alumna of Dow Medical College. Dr. Nafis Sadik is daughter of Muhammad Shoaib, former Finance Minister of Pakistan. (Read on wikipedia).

Nafis Sadik - Pakistan.jpg

Nafis Sadik – Pakistan

She says: “Pregnancy is a part of a woman’s life but a woman’s life should not be defined by it. In many societies, however, the fact is that bearing and raising children does define a woman. She does many things in her life, but she is only given recognition for one of them … When women are properly valued for all the things they do, then and only then, will their role as mothers be respected and the resources found to protect their lives and health.”

She says also: “At independence, Pakistan was the 13th most populous country in the world, with 32.5 million people; in 1996 it was seventh, with a population of 140 million. Pakistan’s population growth rate is now one of the highest in Asia at 2.7 percent: at independence we added a million people every year or so; today we are adding a million every three months. No conceivable development plan can sustain such a rate of population growth. If we are to meet the challenges of the 21st century, Pakistan must put slowing population growth at the head of its list of priorities.”

Although a national of Pakistan, Nafis Sadik is truly a citizen of the world. She has spent a lifetime working on the politically charged and non-glamorous issues of global population control and women’s health, issues which at first glance some may consider irrelevant to their daily lives. However, a closer look at the statistics reveals the gravity of the situation and how it affects our world.

The high rate of population growth, the suffering of millions of women in developing countries due to the lack of proper healthcare facilities, and lack of awareness of individual rights are all issues which demand immediate remediation. For her efforts to raise awareness of these issues and developing or effecting policies, Nafis Sadik has received awards from governments and organizations in many countries including Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States. When she accepted the post of Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 1987, she became one of the highest ranking women in the UN and the first women ever to serve as an executive head of one of the UN’s major voluntarily funded programs. Echoing the sentiments of many others, at the Hague International Forum in 1999, Hillary Rodham Clinton said of Nafis Sadik, “I believe that the world owes her a debt of gratitude for all she has done over the years to place women at the very center of development.”

She has repeatedly spoken about the adverse effects of having children at a very young age when she is “physically, intellectually, and emotionally underdeveloped.” According to Nafis, early pregnancies most often occur in areas where women grow up “without proper nourishment or healthcare or the education that will allow them to take care of themselves.” In 1964, Nafis was appointed to head the health section of the Pakistan governments’ Planning Commission. The following year Pakistan’s first population policy was developed, primarily authored by Nafis Sadik. Later she served as the Deputy Director General and then Director General of the Pakistan Central Planning Council. (Inter Press Service International Achievement Award, United Nations, New York, 11 December 2000, REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR PENNY A. WENSLEY)

Nafis Sadik was first invited to join the UNFPA in 1971. Since then she served there in different capacities until retiring from the post of Executive Director in 2000. One of her major achievements was the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994. Nafis served as the Secretary-General of the conference which was attended by representatives from more than 180 countries. Population and development, women’s health, and gender equality emerged as focus topics at the conference. ICPD resulted in a 20-year Programme of Action dealing with women’s health, global population control and development. The conference has been considered a landmark achievement.

Speaking of Nafis Sadik’s early experience of working in Pakistani hospitals, the Australian ambassador remarked, “Many of the women she treated [there] simply accepted that the hard work, poor health, frequent pregnancies and a high risk of death in childbirth are women’s fate. They did not know or believe they had a choice.” Nafis Sadik has written extensively on women’s health, family planning, and population and development. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from multiple universities in the US, including Brown, Duke, John Hopkins, as well as universities from Canada, Japan, and Jamaica. (Read all on Jazbah.org).

She says: “My best experience was as a volunteer. Early in my career, I volunteered to look after health centres in villages. During this time — as a volunteer — I learned the most about people and how they give, especially how women sacrifice to help each other.” (See the whole article on UNvolunteers).

A national of Pakistan, Dr. Sadik was born in Jaunpur, India, the daughter of Iffat Ara and Mohammad Shoaib. Dr. Sadik’s contribution to improving the health of women and children of the global community has brought her many international awards and honours. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Foundation for Human Development, and a member of the South Asian Commission on the Asian Challenge. Dr. Sadik was the President of the Society for International Development (SID) for the period 1994-1997. Dr. Sadik has written numerous articles for leading publications in the family planning, health, and population and development fields, and edited several books, among them: Population: The UNFPA Experience (New York University Press, 1984), Population Policies and Programmes: Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Experience, (New York University Press, 1991), and Making a Difference: Twenty-five Years of UNFPA Experience, (Banson, London, United Kingdom, 1994). (See on UNfpa, United Nations Population Fund).

Since her retirement in December 2000, Dr Sadik serves as Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. She is a tireless advocate of women’s rights and fighter for the health of women and children. (Read the whole on GoodLot).

links:

at UN.org;

at BBC world.

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