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Noeleen Heyzer currently serves as the Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary General for Timor-Leste. She was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 10 June 2013. Previously she served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from July 2007 till January 2014.
Heyzer has extensive experience on issues related to women, gender, and development. In the early years of her career, she was a researcher for the World Employment Programme of the International Labor Organization and a fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at University of Sussex. While working for the Economic and Social Commission of Asian and the Pacific, she focused on the preparation for the Third World Conference on women and on youth employment. As Director of Gender Programme of the Asian and Pacific Development Center, she was a key player in the formulation of national development policies and programmes from a gender perspective and advised several Asian governments on gender issues.
Later on, she was appointed to head the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the leading UN agency to promote gender equality and empowerment of women. Under her leadership, UNIFEM played a vital role in helping countries to formulate and implement legislation and policies to ensure women's security and rights. At UNIFEM, she focused on promoting women's leadership in conflict resolution, ending violence against women, and combating HIV/AIDS from a gender perspective. She played an active role in the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
Heyzer has served on many boards and advisory committees of international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) Human Development Report, the UNDP Eminent Persons Group on Trade and Sustainable Development and the Commission on Globalization of the State of the World's Forum.
In November 2004, Heyzer gave a lecture entitled "Women, War and Peace: Mobilizing for Security and Justice in the 21st Century" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.
She obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Singapore and a doctorate degree in social science from Cambridge University, United Kingdom (Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge).
In 2014 she received the Aletta Jacobs Price of the University of Groningen. Since 1990, this university has awarded this biannual prize to women who 'have distinguished themselves in the field of emancipation'. The prize aims 'to profile women who serve as an example to others'.
- un.org, United Nations Department of Public Information
- unescap.org, UN ESCAP: Former Executive Secretaries
- United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 4208. S/PV/4208 page 6. Ms. Heyzer United Nations Development Fund for Women 24 October 2000. Retrieved 2008-12-13.