Maha Akeel, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2005-06-14 03:00

JEDDAH, 14 June 2005 — A Saudi female sociologist has won this year’s UN21 Award for her work with NGOs in the Kingdom.

Dr. Mona Al-Munajjed received the award for her project entitled, “Activating the Role of Women’s Welfare Associations in Saudi Arabia.” It is one of four winning projects selected out of 60 by the UN21 Award’s high-level approving panel.

Dr. Al-Munajjed and 11 other winners were handed the awards at the United Nations in New York on June 1 at a ceremony attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette. The award was established nine years ago as part of the reform effort by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to give recognition to staff members for innovation, efficiency and excellence in the delivery of the UN’s programs and services.

Dr. Al-Munajjed works as first social affairs officer at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) and she is in charge of social development projects for Saudi Arabia. The main fields of work for ESCWA are social development, gender issues, human resources development, population, agriculture and economic issues.

Last year she launched two UN projects in Saudi Arabia — both funded by Abdul Latif Jameel Company Ltd. It was the first time that the private sector in Saudi Arabia has funded a UN project, according to Dr. Al-Munajjed.

The first project aims to prepare trainers in income generating skills in rural areas. The second, conducted in close coordination with the Ministry of Social Affairs, aims to increase capacity building and improve the level of output of NGOs and build work relations; this is the one she received the award for.

“This pioneering field project involved building the technical and economic capacity of women NGOs in Saudi Arabia through training and the development of coordination mechanisms between government, private institutions and non-government organizations. Importantly, the project had the recognition and support of the Saudi government and has led to requests for ESCWA to carry out further social and development projects in Saudi Arabia,” said a statement by the UN.

“This is an annual award and it is given to encourage development projects. It is the first time that a Saudi woman has received the award,” Dr. Al-Munajjed said.

Dr. Al-Munajjed has been working with several UN agencies on programs and social projects. She is the author of two published books and is currently working on a third book, which is based on personal interviews with 20 remarkable Saudi women who recount the events that shaped their lives and careers.

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