Dr. Hansa Mehta Memorial Dialogue

Dr. Hansa Mehta Dialogue intends to raise awareness among the global community that gender equality, the empowerment of women and human rights of women and girls must be a central priority.

The inaugural 2021 dialogue will focus on women's economic empowerment in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. While every community has been impacted by the pandemic and is facing unprecedented challenges, women are bearing an unequal share of the negative economic and social fallout of COVID-19.

Dr. Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist of IMF will deliver a keynote on "Women's Economic Empowerment and Inclusive Global Economic Growth: COVID-19 and Beyond" followed by an interactive conversation moderated by H.E Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of UAE to the UN. There will be special addresses by Ms. Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary General, UN Department of Global Communications and Ms. Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Women.

About Dr. Hansa Mehta

Dr. Hansa Mehta is a prominent Indian scholar, educator, social reformer and writer. Born on July 3, 1897, Dr. Mehta was a champion of women’s rights. As the President of All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) in 1946, she led the drafting of “Indian Women’s Charter of Rights”, which demanded gender equality, civil rights and justice for women in India. She was also part of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Indian Constitution, a member of its Advisory Committee and sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights. Many provisions of AIWC’s Charter formed the basis of gender-neutral provisions in the Indian constitution.

At the international level, Dr. Mehta played a pioneering role in drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). She was the only other female delegate, apart from Eleanor Roosevelt, to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. She is widely credited for successfully arguing against references to “men” as a synonym for humanity, and succeeded in changing the phrase, “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal” in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The introduction of the more inclusive language in UDHR was an important milestone in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality.

Dr. Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist, International Monetary Fund

Gita Gopinath is the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is on leave of public service from Harvard University’s Economics department where she is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics.

She was previously a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank, New York. From 2016-18, she was the Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala state in India. She also served as a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India's Ministry of Finance.

In 2014, she was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF. In 2019, Foreign Policy named her one of the Top Global Thinkers. The Indian government bestowed her the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians.

Ms. Gopinath was born in India. She is a U.S. citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India. She has a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University, a B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi and M.A. degrees from Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington.

H.E. Ms. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of UAE

Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh has served as the United Arab Emirates Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations since September 2013.

Ambassador Nusseibeh’s leadership of the Mission and engagement across the UN system has been guided by these values. A particular area of passion for her is the role of women in the promotion of peace and security. She was the President of the UN Women Executive Board in 2017 and led the UAE in working closely with UN Women to launch the Arab Women Military and Peacekeeping Programme in the UAE in 2019.

She served as Vice-President of the UN’s 72nd General Assembly and was a Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council reform in the 72nd, 73rd, and 74th sessions.

As an expression of the UAE’s commitment to multilateralism and the UN’s continued vitality and efficacy, Ambassador Nusseibeh co-facilitates and co-chairs the Friends of the Future of the UN (FFUN), a small group of Permanent Representatives who convene regularly for briefings and discussions on the most pressing issues affecting the future of the organization as part of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the UN General Assembly.

Even before her appointment as Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Nusseibeh was guided by a commitment to public service. At the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, she established the Ministry’s Policy Planning Department in 2009 and served as its first Director for three years. During this time, she was also the UAE Deputy Sherpa to the G20 under France’s presidency in 2011. From 2010 – 2011, she served as the UAE Co-Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Previously, she was the Head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Campaign Task Force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Director of Research and Communications for the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs.

In 2017, she was awarded the UAE Prime Minister’s Government Excellence Award (the UAE Medal of Pride). 

Ambassador Nusseibeh received an MA (Cantab) and BA (Hons) in History from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and an MA with Distinction in Israeli and Jewish Diaspora Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 2003.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, the Board of Directors of Security Council Report (SCR), and serves on the Advisory Board of The London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre.

Ms. Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications

From 2009 until August 2019, Ms. Fleming served UNHCR as Head of Global Communications and Spokesperson for the High Commissioner.  At UNHCR, she led global media outreach campaigns, social media engagement and a multimedia news service to distribute and place stories designed to generate empathy and stir action for refugees.

Ms. Fleming is a frequent interview guest on international media platforms, and her talks are featured on TED.com.  She is author of the book, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea, and host of the award-winning podcast, Awake at Night.

Ms. Fleming joined UNHCR from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where she served for eight years as Spokesperson and Head of the Media and Outreach.  Prior to IAEA, she headed the Press and Public Information team at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 

Earlier still, she was Public Affairs Specialist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, having started her career as a journalist.  From 2016 to 2017, she also served as Senior Adviser and Spokesperson on the incoming United Nations Secretary General’s Transition Team.

Ms. Anita Bhatia Assistant Secy. Gen, UN-WOMEN

Ms. Bhatia has had a distinguished career at The World Bank Group, serving in various senior leadership and management positions, both at Headquarters and in the field. She brings extensive experience in the area of strategic partnerships, resource mobilization and management. Ms. Bhatia has served for several years as Director of Global Partnerships for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of The World Bank Group. She developed and expanded innovative partnerships with public and private sector partners to support IFC strategy in key areas, including fragile and conflict-affected states, gender equality, financial inclusion, support to women-owned businesses and other priorities critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, she has served as Director of Development Partner Relations for the World Bank in which she led efforts to ensure strategic alignment between institutional priorities and resource mobilization across the World Bank Group.

In various positions she focused on enhancing sustainability, institutional effectiveness and impact through strategic partnerships. As Head of IFC’s Latin America Advisory Operations, based in Lima and La Paz, she successfully grew the Corporation’s reach and impact in the region. As Director of Partnerships and Advisory Operations, she oversaw financial management, risk management, portfolio management, knowledge management and learning for Advisory Services across the globe. She has led diverse teams, including as Global Head of Knowledge Management, Head of Business Process Improvement and Head of Change Management. In addition to Latin America, she has worked in Africa, Europe, Central Asia and South and East Asia.

Ms. Bhatia holds a BA in History from Calcutta University, an MA in Political Science from Yale University and a Juris Doctor in Law from Georgetown University.