- About the Author
How did a young girl who rose from underprivileged circumstances in post-war Singapore become a trailblazer of women’s global leadership at the United Nations? Noeleen Heyzer was the first woman from outside North America to be appointed as Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the first woman Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). In these memoirs, Noeleen Heyzer reflects on her remarkable journey – from the challenges of her childhood and youth, her intellectual development at the University of Singapore and the University of Cambridge, to her groundbreaking work on women’s empowerment and her meteoric rise to the position of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is a book that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the courage of individuals, communities, and societies to transform structures of discrimination and injustice.
Noeleen Heyzer was an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the highest ranking Singaporean in the United Nations (2007-2015). She was the first woman to serve as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific since its founding in 1947. Under her leadership (2007-2014), the commission focused on regional cooperation for a more resilient Asia-Pacific, founded on shared prosperity, social equity, and sustainable development. She was at the forefront of many innovations including for regional disaster preparedness, inclusive socio-economic policies, sustainable agriculture and urbanization, energy security and regional connectivity.
She was the first Executive Director from outside North America to lead the United Nations Development Fund for Women (1994-2007). She was widely recognized for her pivotal role in the Security Council's formulation and implementation of the landmark Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, and undertook extensive missions to conflict-affected countries worldwide. She was also the UNSG's Special Adviser for Timor-Leste, working to support peace-building, state-building, and sustainable development.
She holds a BA (Upper Hons) and a MSc from Singapore University, a PhD from Cambridge University, and has received numerous international awards for leadership including the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal (2004).
Cover Type: Paperback
Year Published: 2021