Indian American Arora Akanksha, 34, running for UN chief
Arora Akanksha, a 34-year-old staff member who works as an audit coordinator for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has announced her candidacy for UN secretary-general and is set to be the only candidate running against incumbent António Guterres. Although she has no national backing for her candidacy yet, Akanksha launched her grass-roots campaign called UNOW on Twitter and other social media platforms on February 9.
Akanksha said that her opponent Guterres has failed as the secretary general of the United Nations. “He’s failed as a leader in reforming the institution. He’s failed as a leader to refugees; he was leading the refugee agency before coming here, so he knows the plight of refugees. He knows their pain, hope, better than most of us, because he served them. Yet when he came, he didn’t make any decision to prioritise resources to them,” she said.
Who is Arora Akanksha?
Born in the northern state of Haryana, Akanksha moved with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was six years old. She studied at York University in Toronto, Canada, where she received a bachelor’s degree in administrative studies. She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. Akanksha also holds an Overseas Citizenship Of India (OCI) and a Canadian passport, although she hasn’t asked either country for an official endorsement.
She was recruited by the UN to help with the financial reforms of the organisation and was also responsible for updating financial regulations and rules of the UN as well as managing the internal and external audits at UNDP.
‘United Nations is risk-averse’
Akanksha, who is self-financing her campaign according to one of her campaign videos, said that during her work at the UN she has become increasingly disillusioned with the inability of the UN to create change and the organisation is not fulfilling its original mission as stated in the UN Charter.
“I had been part of the reforms team for two years, and I had access to the upper echelon of our leadership,” Akanksha said, adding that she saw “how they are so risk-averse…”
‘Half of the world population is under 30’
Despite her lack of experience in foreign and government affairs, Akanksha is unafraid as she feels that her age will play to her advantage. “I think something we have to realise is half of the world population is under 30 right now,” she said.
“So you would want a leader who knows what it’s like to be in that age group to be suffering, not having the economic freedom to do everything you want, not having the ability to get the opportunities that you deserve. If you want to see different results, you have to do things differently,” she said.