Interviewed by Georgina Alford with contributions from Adonis Huggins and Nea Maaty- FOCUS
In celebration of International Women’s Day, The Corner spoke with an inspirational woman leader, Rowena Pinto, Chief Program Officer of UNICEF Canada. Growing up in Quebec at the time of both separation referendums, Rowena has always been passionate about policy and advocacy. After earning a masters in Public Policy and Public Administration, Rowena began her career in corrections, fighting to get voices heard. Rowena describes her transition to UNICEF as a “no brainer”. UNICEF is an international organisation that is responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Today, Rowena oversees international policy and programs, advising governments on policies that help children around the world. On the program side, she coordinates with donors to raise money and gain funding. In addition, Rowena works on a domestic advocacy program called ‘One Youth’. In fact, she calls for any young people interested in getting involved with policy work to research ‘One Youth’ and have their voice heard on the national stage. If you are interested in this brilliant opportunity, follow the link provided to learn more!
With more women such as Rowena achieving so much in the workplace and rising in professional positions, it may be easy to assume that the fight for equal rights has been achieved. However, with the rise of the “Me Too Movement”, many professional women are encountering racial and/or gender discrimination and harassment in their careers. While Rowena acknowledges HR departments are much better equipped to deal with these issues, she notes that unconscious bias and microaggressions continue to be an issue in the workplace. She advises any woman experiencing discrimination to recognise that they are not to blame and to seek support from colleagues, family and friends.
In addition to her leadership role, Rowena also took the time to discuss child marriage. Around the world, it is estimated that 12 million girls are married under the age of 18. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues. Rowena is concerned that we could potentially see an additional 10 million marriages over the course of the next decade, meaning that gains made as a global community could be undermined. To learn more about how UNICEF is working to combat child marriage, as well as hearing more from Rowena about the issues discussed above, watch the full interview here.