The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem has appointed Ms. Bidisha Pillai as the new Country Representative to Liberia.
Pillai, a national of India officially assumed her duty following the presentation of her Credentials to the Government of Liberia on Friday, 24 June, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She replaces Ratidzai Ndhlovu, who served as Representative ad interim from January 3 to June 6. She comes to UNFPA Liberia with a wealth of experience: having worked with Save the Children International as Global Policy, Advocacy, and Campaigns Director from 2020 to 2022, and with Save the Children in India as Chief Executive Officer prior to that.
In a career spanning over two decades, she has also worked with the UK DFID in India as Head of Strategy, Results, and Communications; with UNODC and FAO in India, and several civil society organizations.
At the start of her career, she worked in the Banking sector for two years. Pillai has a significant experience in the social change and development sector, including leadership, strategy, and program management; advocacy, campaigns, and communications; strategic partnerships, and alliance building.
Having worked on various issues aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across India, South Asia, and globally, she has gained a broad perspective of current development challenges and the need to address them in an integrated manner. Pillai is a passionate advocate for children's and women’s rights, quality education for all, gender equity, ending violence against women and children, and sexual and reproductive health rights for all.
Speaking on June 24, at the Foreign Ministry when she formally submitted her Credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Pillai commended the Government of Liberia for accelerating critical reforms toward ensuring quality health and basic human rights for all, and for recommitting to the International Conference on Population and Development Plan of Action ICPD/PoA at Nairobi 2019.
She reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to collaborating with the Government of Liberia to accelerate efforts towards achieving the three transformative results by 2030 – ending the unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths, and ending gender-based violence and harmful practices.
In his welcome statement, Kemayah, on behalf of President George Weah, congratulated Pillai for her preferment.
Kemayah recounted the critical role of UNFPA in the growth and development of two vital demographic groups-women and young people in Liberia. He lauded UNFPA for helping women with fistula regain their health and dignity. Kemayah also outlined the support of UNFPA in the delivery of the pending National Population and Housing Census and promised the Government’s commitment to ensuring the conduct of the census on time.
Meanwhile, Kemayah and Pillai have pledged to remain engaged in programs geared at empowering women and young people in Liberia.