A Young Somali American, Is The New UNA-USA and U.S. Department of State UN Youth Observer

Washington, DC – The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, announced Today (July 25, 2017) Ms. Munira Khalif as the sixth annual U.S. Youth Observer to the UN.

Khalif, a Minnesota-native and rising junior at Harvard University, was chosen from a competitive pool of nearly 350 applicants that included top-ranked university students and young professionals from across the United States. In her role as U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, Khalif will represent a youth voice at the United Nations General Assembly and other UN events throughout the year.

“As a representative of the largest youth generation in history, I know the decisions of today shape the world of our tomorrow,” said Khalif. “I look forward to elevating the voices of young Americans in these important global policy discussions during my time as U.S. Youth Observer to the UN.”

Khalif, a first-generation Somali-American, is a dedicated advocate for universal access to education and women’s and girls’ rights. She is a co-founder and leader of “Lighting the Way,” a youth-run nonprofit organization that works to make education more accessible and equitable for girls in East Africa. Khalif has advocated for adolescent girls around the globe as a former Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign.

Ms. Munira Khalif of Minnesota chosen as US Youth Observer to the UN. Photo credit: UN

“Young people like Munira are a driving force for positive change in their communities and the world,” said UNA-USA Executive Director Chris Whatley. “We are delighted for Munira to share her experiences and collaborate with her peers worldwide to bring young people’s perspective to the world’s most significant global forum.”

The U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations program was launched in 2012 to increase youth engagement in global affairs. As the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, Khalif will represent American youth at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York and other UN events throughout the coming year, traveling within the United States and overseas to share her impressions and experiences. Khalif succeeds Ms. Nicol Perez, who served as a voice for American youth at major global events in New York, Rome, Dubai, and Berlin as the U.S. Youth Observer for 2016-17. The U.S. Youth Observer to the UN position is a program of the U.S. Department of State and is operated by UNA-USA. For more information on the U.S. Youth Observer program, please visit genun.unausa.org/youth_observer. Follow the U.S. Youth Observer program on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Biography 

Munria Khalif, was photographed at the school in St. Paul on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. At that time she won the Special Envoy Youth Courage Award. Khalif, who’s parents are from Somalia, also spoke at the UN last year, and she was named the 2014 Minnesota Poetry State Champion. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Munira Khalif is the 2017-18 U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, a role appointed annually by the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Association of the USA to increase youth engagement in global affairs. Munira was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently an undergraduate student at Harvard University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Government. She is a dedicated advocate for universal access to education and women’s and girls’ rights. Her experience as a first-generation Somali-American made her aware of the sad reality that many children, especially girls, lack the opportunity to attend school and underscored the transformative power of education.

Munira previously served as an advocate and Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign and was invited to attend the first inaugural Malala Day at the UN Headquarters in New York as a youth delegate. Munira also served on a UN panel on behalf of Girl Up with representatives from UNESCO and the Global Partnership for Education to discuss ways to increase lawmakers’ involvement in youth issues. Munira, alongside other youth advocates, successfully lobbied Congress to ensure that girls in developing countries are registered at birth.

Munira is a co-founder and leader of Lighting the Way, a youth-run non-profit organization that works to make education more accessible and equitable for girls in East Africa by providing scholarships, building libraries, and sponsoring teachers. Munira was awarded the UN Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award, which honors young people fighting for universal education. She was one of nine recipients chosen from around the world to receive the honor. Munira was invited twice to attend the annual White House Iftar dinner, which celebrates Muslim-American trailblazers both in the public and private sector.

During her free time, Munira enjoys writing, performing spoken word poetry, and creating pottery in a ceramics studio.


Selection of the Sixth Annual U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC
July 25, 2017

The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), is pleased to announce the selection of the sixth annual U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations. Ms. Munira Khalif of Minnesota was chosen from a competitive pool of applicants that included top-ranked university students and young professionals from across the United States.

Ms. Khalif studies economics and government at Harvard University. She co-founded a youth-run non-profit organization called Lighting the Way, which works to make education more accessible and equitable for girls in East Africa. She has actively advocated for women and girls’ issues at the United Nations through the UN Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign and is passionate about empowering youth voices through grassroots community initiatives.

The U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations program was launched in 2012 to increase youth engagement in global affairs. As the Youth Observer, Ms. Khalif will represent American youth at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York and other UN events throughout the coming year, traveling within the United States and overseas to share her impressions and experiences. Ms. Khalif follows Ms. Nicol Perez, who served as a voice for American youth at major global events in New York, Rome, Dubai, and Berlin as the U.S. Youth Observer for 2016-2017.

For further information, please contact Cain Harrelson, Public Diplomacy Chief for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, at HarrelsonBC@state.gov. Follow the program and the Department of State’s multilateral engagements on Twitter at @USYouthObserverand @State_IO. Complete details about the U.S. Youth Observer program are available at http://genun.unausa.org/youth_observer.

 

 

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