Fatima Jiwani, international UN Volunteer Education Specialist with UNICEF gives a presentation on gender-responsive education at the Ministry of Education in Lebanon.
Fatima Jiwani, international UN Volunteer Education Specialist with UNICEF gives a presentation on gender-responsive education at the Ministry of Education in Lebanon.

Narrowing the gender divide

International Women's Day spotlights Sustainable Development Goal 5 focusing on gender equality. With the world facing crisis on multiple fronts, narrowing the gender divide becomes all the more important for creating prosperous, inclusive, and equitable societies. This is a story of three UN Volunteers supporting gender equality efforts in Jordan and Lebanon. 

Katrin Hermanek is an international UN Youth Volunteer fully funded by Switzerland. She serves as a Gender Equality Programme Analyst with UN Women in Lebanon. Her grassroots-level community service helps identify needs of women and girls. In coming up with solutions, a major emphasis is to ensure women get a decision-making role in their communities.

A firm believer in investing in women's education and leadership development, Katrin advocates for tapping into a vast pool of talent and creativity. In addition, her volunteer service is framed by ideals of equal participation of women in all spheres of life, including the economy.  

My greatest success is to contribute meaningfully to initiatives aimed at advancing the rights and well-being of women and girls.” -- Katrin Hermanek, UN Youth Volunteer with UN Women, Lebanon.

Ghena Haikal is a national UN Volunteer Gender Specialist who supports UNICEF in Jordan. She implements gender-responsive approaches through a collaboration with key sectors and ensures UNICEF’s gender objectives align with national development plans. She believes investing in women's education, economic empowerment, and leadership yields significant benefits for communities.

Women in leadership bring diverse perspectives, innovative solutions, and inclusive decision-making. Prioritizing these investments accelerate progress towards gender equality and sustainable development." – Ghena Haikal, UN Volunteer with UNICEF, Jordan.

As a UN Volunteer, Ghena’s most memorable experience was working on a digital inclusion project covering over 20,000 households during COVID-19. It took her out of her comfort zone, she says, and interact with communities to address their challenges.

Fatima Jiwani is an international UN Volunteer from Burundi. As an Education Specialist, she supports UNICEF with mainstreaming gender in formal and non-formal education programming in Lebanon. She does so by training the implementing partners and leading on initiatives for programmes related to adolescent girls.

Fatima liaises with the Ministry of Education and various related sectors in Lebanon on the development of a gender equality action plan. She believes an action plan such as this has the potential to make the education system more responsive to the needs of the marginalized segment, including adolescent girls and boys. Eventually amplifying the equal access to quality education for all.

Investing in a gender-responsive education system has a multiplier effect: it can lead to reduced poverty and increased economic growth. This has a multigenerational impact”. -- Fatima Jiwani, UN Volunteer with UNICEF, Lebanon.

One of the highlights for Fatima was leading a campaign on menstruation barriers for adolescent girls' access to education. The campaign reached 12,000 girls in the country. 

Innovative ideas and passion for serving humanity, the contributions of Katrin, Ghena and Fatima are a testament to the service of UN Volunteers, who continue to break barriers that hinder the progress of women and girls.