Ms. Alsoswa is a Yemeni leader and activist, who is presently a member of the 565-member Yemen Political National Dialogue. She was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Director of its Regional Bureau for Arab States, where she served from 2006-2012. In this post, Alsoswa led UNDP’s 18 programme offices in the Arab region in their efforts to develop national capacities for poverty reduction, democratic governance, sustainable development, crisis prevention and recovery, and women’s empowerment. She also provided regional thought leadership through the launching of two editions of the Arab Human Development Report, in 2006 and 2009. In these efforts Alsoswa has built on decades of first-hand experience in public engagement, institution-building and governance issues in the region, in particular in her native Yemen, where she served in various leadership positions in the public and private spheres.
From 2003 to 2005, she served as Yemen’s first Minister of Human Rights, developing the mandate and capacities of that institution and leading such efforts as the production of the country’s first national report on human rights, the holding of televised public hearings on international reports on Yemen’s human rights record, and the establishment of a human rights resource center open to the public. Prior to that post, Alsoswa served from 1997 to 1999 as Undersecretary in the Ministry of Information, where she created and oversaw Mutaba’at I’elamiah, a monthly journal providing a platform for consultation and debate on media matters and the fulfillment of freedom of expression. She also served as the Chair of Yemen’s first Women’s National Committee from 1997 working with women’s groups and other stakeholders to advance women’s empowerment across the country.
In addition she served in the Yemeni Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2003 as Ambassador to Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. Prior to public service, Alsoswa led the Yemeni Women’s Union from 1989-1991, and enjoyed a wide-ranging career as a journalist, starting with radio contributions at the age of ten and culminating with the position of Deputy Director of Programmes at Sana’a TV from 1984 to 1986. During that same period, Alsoswa was also a Visiting Lecturer in the Political Science department of the University of Sana’a. Her achievements have been recognized by many national and international public and private institutions, including the Government of France, which in 2004 awarded her the rank of Officier of the Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur, and the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, which presented her the 2004 W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award. Alsoswa holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from Cairo University and an M.A. in International Communications from the American University in Washington.