UNA-USA and U.S. Department of State Announce Advocate for Women and Girls as 2017-18 U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations

July 25, 2017
Ms. Munira Khalif, Harvard University student and co-founder of girls’ education nonprofit “Lighting the Way,” will advance youth engagement at the UN as sixth annual U.S. Youth Observer

Washington, DC (July 25, 2017) – The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, announced today 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.

“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 program on Twitter at @USYouthObserver.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Lauren Dickinson,
Communications Officer, UNA-USA

U.S. Department of State
Cain Harrelson,
Public Diplomacy Chief for the Bureau of International Organization Affairs,

About UNA-USA:
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a 50-state grassroots organization dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the ideals and vital work of the United Nations. For more than 70 years, UNA-USA has worked to accomplish its mission through its national network of Chapters, youth engagement, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. UNA-USA is a program of the United Nations Foundation.

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