Photo credit: UNDP Pacific Office | Gender Division
By Mackenzie White, MAGG
Hello! My name is Mackenzie White, and this is my first blog post about working remotely as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) in gender and sustainability with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji. This incredible opportunity is the final component of my time in the Master of Arts in Global Governance program, and provides a unique set of circumstances to put my knowledge into practice. By utilizing my technical and practical skills to gain insight into a United Nations operation across the world, I look forward to contributing to the meaningful changes that this team and the overall international organization have underway.
I have been involved with a significant project already, which concerns approval for the UNDP Gender Equality Seal: a corporate certification process that recognizes good performance of UNDP Country Offices, Regional Service Centres and the Regional Bureaux in delivering transformative results for gender equality. By using Gender Seal benchmarks and guidelines set out by the United Nations, gender equality results have improved within offices and units globally, and have contributed to visible results that support the UNDP signature solutions in integrated responses to development. Fellow BSIA MIPP alumni Chelsea Sidloski and I are working on compiling a thorough analysis of over twenty gender-based initiatives across relevant countries in the South Pacific to prepare as evidence to be approved for the UNDP Gender Equality Seal.
The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji offers regional and national support to fifteen South Pacific countries with overseeing a total population of 2.4 million people. The three core pillars of this work include effective governance, inclusive growth, resilience, and sustainable development. The work is guided by a Sub-Regional Programme Document for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories 2018-2022 to support countries in advancing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda based on each country’s priorities, which range from policy and data analysis, participatory planning, and engagement, as well as budgeting, monitoring, and evaluating, to meet the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Overall, the UNDP seeks to support the most vulnerable populations through multi-disciplinary inclusive and pro-human rights-based approaches, particularly for those in challenging circumstances, marginalized individuals in remote rural regions, those exposed to climate and natural disaster hazards, as well as women and youth disproportionately impacted by socio-political and economic hardship for participation.
I look forward to settling into my position and learning more about the vast initiatives supporting gender equality in the South Pacific. I have been familiarizing myself with the various policy documents and structures, getting to know each colleague and their responsibilities in our department, and adhering to additional responsibilities beyond my role. In this hybrid cohort for short-term JPCs, I welcome the challenges and benefits to this kind of opportunity of simultaneously working for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, reporting to the UN Association of Canada in Ottawa, and representing the Balsillie School of International Affairs!