United Nations Foundation Mourns Loss of Longtime Board Member Dr. Nafis Sadik

Dr. Sadik will be remembered as a fierce champion for the health and rights of girls and women

Washington, D.C.

August 15, 2022


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation today honors the life of Board Member Emeritus Dr. Nafis Sadik, whose decades of leadership and fearless dedication to the health and rights of girls and women around the world leaves a profound legacy. Dr. Sadik joined the UN Foundation Board of Directors in 2001 after serving as Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 1987 to 2000. Her appointment to lead UNFPA was historic, as she became one of the highest-ranking women in the UN system at the time as well as the first woman to lead one of UN’s largest programs.

Dr. Sadik fought tirelessly for the rights of girls and women. She was unafraid and undeterred by those who would limit their rights, in particular the right to decide freely and for themselves whether and when to have children. She dedicated her life to ensuring girls and women received the sexual and reproductive health information, tools, and services they needed and deserved.

“Nafis was brave, visionary, often humorous, and always steely,” said UN Foundation Founder and Chair, Ted Turner. “She was an unwavering champion for the rights of girls and women who also leaves an enduring legacy at the UN Foundation. She inspired and motivated us all, and it was an honor to serve on the UN Foundation Board by her side.”

Much of the progress for girls and women of recent decades would not have been possible without Dr. Sadik, including her pathbreaking leadership of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where world leaders first agreed that human rights and dignity, including reproductive rights, were central to global progress.

“By empowering girls and women to control the most fundamental decisions about their own lives, Nafis helped change the world,” added UN Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Cousens. “Her commitment to the equal rights of all girls and women inspired her life and work, from her time as a doctor in Pakistan to her leadership on the world stage. She also left an indelible legacy at the UN Foundation as one of its earliest and longest-serving members of the Board. Wherever we see reproductive health and rights threatened today, Dr. Sadik’s life and numerous achievements should give us renewed determination and resolve.”

The UN Foundation extends our deepest condolences to Dr. Sadik’s family, the people and Government of Pakistan, and people everywhere who are mourning her loss.


About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation is an independent charitable organization created to work closely with the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges, build initiatives across sectors to solve problems at scale, and drive global progress. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org.