Sharon Capeling-Alakija, November 4, 2003

Friday, November 7 2003

Sharon Capeling-Alakija, November 4, 2003
Remembering a Life of Service

Sharon Capeling-Alakija, former Executive Director of UNIFEM, died on 4th November 2003 in Bonn, Germany after a long and courageous battle with cancer. IWTC joins women worldwide in mourning her untimely death.
Serving as UNIFEM's Executive Director from 1989-1994. Sharon worked to put UNIFEM and women's rights solidly on the UN map and at UN tables. She held a gender lens to mainstream issues such as the environment, refugees, and human rights, and strongly advocated the idea that women's rights are human rights. She also struggled to frame violence against women as a legitimate focus of UNIFEM's efforts. She said if UNIFEM did not speak of these issues, who in the UN would? She also raised millions of dollars for the organization, which is an associate fund of UN Development Programme (UNDP), and added immensely to the high profile it continues to have today.
Following her work with UNIFEM, Sharon became Director of the Office of Evaluation and Strategic Planning at UNDP's New York headquarters. She held this post from April 1994 until December 1997. As part of her job, she was responsible for the overall management of UNDP's results-based evaluation and planning functions.
In 1998 Ms. Capeling-Alakija was offered the position of Executive Director of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. Based in Bonn, Germany, UNV is widely regarded as the human face of UN peace and development efforts. Working through a network of cooperating organizations and UNDP country offices around the world, volunteers are recruited each year to assist in the areas of poverty reduction, community development, humanitarian relief, human rights, electoral support, and peacebuilding processes.
"UNV also takes me full circle in my career," said Sharon in an article available online at "I started in 1967 as a volunteer with CUSO (formerly the Canadian University Service Overseas) and will finish my career heading a program that sends over 5,000 highly qualified and dedicated volunteers from over 160 countries around the world."
SPECIAL NOTE FROM IWTC: UNIFEM and IWTC resulted from the first of the UN world conferences on women, -the UN International Women’s Year (IWY) World Conference and the non-governmental IWY Tribune held in Mexico City 1975. Because of this shared history, and in the full knowledge that the activities and support of NGO women’s groups and networks were essential if the UN was to be successful in implementing the plans and platforms for women that came from UN meetings, Sharon was a great supporter of IWTC and its activities on behalf of women in the Global South. We, and NGO women worldwide, mourn her loss very deeply and are grateful for her constant support over a lifetime of international humanitarian service. 
A celebration for the life of Sharon Capeling-Alakija will be held in New York on November 17th, 2003.
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