Are you a female leader interested in working for UNICEF in the field? Read this empowering interview with Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. She has lots of experience from dealing with emergencies in Philippines, Afghanistan and Indonesia. Learn about the benefits and challenges of working in an emergency context and get her most memorable experience plus tips for women working in emergencies.
"For every child, laughter"
Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan
What is one of your memorable experience working for UNICEF?
– Sleeping on a block of wood in Tacloban, Philippines – and sharing the flat wood with a consultant photographer from New York. It was raining outside and none of the UNICEF staff who were up in the typhoon area had beds for the first few days. It was real camaraderie and commitment and also fun although stressful. When I got up in the early morning I saw one of our drivers sleeping on two white plastic chairs. That was his bed so I was lucky with my wood.
What advice do you have for women currently in an emergency context?
– Always try to find fun. Seek out friendship and support. Laugh out loudly at least once a day. Pack carefully and take lots of wet wipes. Exercise and if possible with friends and eat wisely. Try and find fresh fruit and veggies. Always take care of kitchen staff – they are the ones to keep you healthy.
What are the main benefits / challenges of working in an emergency context?
– Amazing professional satisfaction. Opportunities to keep on learning and growing professionally.
What does your typical work day look like?
– Now I am a Representative so the day in Pakistan is very different to an emergency. Remembering back to Afghanistan in 2002 and the Back to School Campaign it was a feeling of amazing hard work and total fun and commitment. Our living conditions were not so great with sharing bedrooms and also eating in one location that was different to the office and also home but it was fun and exciting and very professionally interesting. Seeing Afghan women working in the warehouse to make up the Back to School kits and organizing a competition with the male packers to see who could pack more kits per day and of course it was the women who won. Then on 21 March 2002 to see millions of boys and girls walking down the streets with their UNICEF back packs on was a truly glorious sight.
What role does diversity play in working in an emergency country context?
- Diversity is important – we need both men and women colleagues as well as from different countries and professional as well as personal backgrounds. We need to be reminded of the Oath we sign when accepting contracts to work in the UN. Accountability and transparency are important. We all bring different skills and that gives us amazing opportunities as well as challenges.
Photo: Angela Kearney,Punjab, Pakistan. All rights reserved.