Gender Balance in the UNODC Country Office Pakistan (COPAK)  

Islamabad, Pakistan - Women are often underrepresented in senior and managerial positions United Nations working environment. Pakistan is among the countries with the least number of women holding decision making positions. Therefore, it is inspiring to see that the UNODC Country Office in Pakistan (COPAK) has proactively sought to maintain a gender balance with four out of eight senior management positions currently held by women. 

Chikako Yoshida, who heads up the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)  Unit, joined UNODC one year ago with the aim of expanding her knowledge and professional career related to the UNODC mandate, especially in the area of anti-terrorism, through monitoring and evaluating the implementation of all activities under the COPAK programme. Being aware of inequality and a glass ceiling  reflected in the working careers of women, she believes that COPAK has done excellent work in terms of gender balance. After being asked, she admitted that currently the M&E Unit has no male staff so perhaps the office can work towards ensuring the gender balance in each section. 

Jouhaida Hanano, Advisor Criminal Justice who heads up Sub Programme II which consists of a gender balanced team, made up of six staff, three of which are females.  Jouhaida Hanano has been a UN staff member since 1992. After her passage through Austria and Iraq, she decided to re-join the UNODC COPAK team last year. She admitted that working in an organization such as the United Nations makes her feel comfortable for its diversity bringing together different nations in a common workplace.  . She also remarked that UNODC in Pakistan has achieved a noticeable gender balance and marked a high number of women in managerial positions. "COPAK has done a prominent job in improving gender equality, however, it is a work in progress to ensure sustainability of such a considerable step", underlined Jouhaida Hanano.. 

During her career at the UNODC, Rizwana Rahool, Communications Officer and head of the Communications Unit, has witnessed how gender balance has gradually evolved during the past 18 years. "Initially all senior positions were male oriented and women would not graduate to executive positions. They were usually hired for assistant or junior positions. But now, we have four senior executive positions with females and it is a positive reflection of gender balance," said Rizwana Rahool. She admitted that in her previous work place there was hardly any gender equality due to cultural issues. She further noted that in other UN offices women are still less likely to be associated with executive positions and that is one aspect that the UN should be encouraged to explore and review. 

Nasima Naz, Finance & Oversight Manager and head of the Finance Unit, has been working at the office for seven years. She chose to work for UNODC because she wanted to be associated with the development sector and the United Nations with the aim of making a difference in the lives of people. She explained, "UNODC works on a mandate that is emerging in the West and Central Asia Region and I believe the work we do has a lot of meaning in Pakistan." Being able to take her son to the office during work hours allows her to balance work with personal life. The UNODC Representative, Mr. Cesar Guedes, has strongly encouraged mothers to bring in their babies along with their nannies to alleviate some of the load from working mothers. In fact, COPAK is the only UN agency with a sort of day care facility in the office. Furthermore the management is actively seeking to bring on board potential females in professional categories especially at the  Senior Management level. 

COPAK has achieved a work environment where both genders feel comfortable and equal and that has increased productivity. The fact that half of the Senior Management positions are headed by women makes this field operation proud of being the first office reaching such corporate goals. 


This web article is written by Andrea Díaz Fernández based on her observation and the testimonies of four female professionals holding senior positions at Country Office Pakistan.   Andrea Díaz Fernández is a student of Loyola University of Seville, Spain, at the study programme of International Relations.  Ms. Fernandez served as an intern in the Communication Unit at the UNODC office in Pakistan (COPAK), during July 2017.