VIENNA, 19 June 2013 - The Director General of UNIDO, Kandeh K. Yumkella, and the Chair of the Desert Flower Foundation, Waris Dirie, agreed today to explore joint activities in support of gender empowerment and energy access, especially for women and girls.
The joint work will be conducted through UNIDO, as well as the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which is headed by Yumkella.
“We both come from Africa, and both of us have experienced energy poverty and the lack of economic opportunities. But we know how to overcome such hurdles, and it is our duty to collaborate and assist our fellow Africans,” said Yumkella.
Waris Dirie is a Somali model, author, actress and human rights activist.
In 1997, Waris abandoned her modelling career to focus on her work against female circumcision. That same year, she was appointed UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation in Vienna to raise awareness about the dangers surrounding FGM. Waris has also started the Desert Dawn Foundation, which raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia, and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation.