U.S. Youth Observer to the UN

Increasing Youth Engagement in Global Affairs


About Munira Khalif:

Munira Khalif is the 2017-18 U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, a role appointed annually by the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Association of the USA to increase youth engagement in global affairs. Munira was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently an undergraduate student at Harvard University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Government. She is a dedicated advocate for universal access to education and women’s and girls’ rights. Her experience as a first-generation Somali-American made her aware of the sad reality that many children, especially girls, lack the opportunity to attend school and underscored the transformative power of education.

Munira previously served as an advocate and Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign and was invited to attend the first inaugural Malala Day at the UN Headquarters in New York as a youth delegate. Munira also served on a UN panel on behalf of Girl Up with representatives from UNESCO and the Global Partnership for Education to discuss ways to increase lawmakers’ involvement in youth issues. Munira, alongside other youth advocates, successfully lobbied Congress to ensure that girls in developing countries are registered at birth.

Munira is a co-founder and leader of Lighting the Way, a youth-run non-profit organization that works to make education more accessible and equitable for girls in East Africa by providing scholarships, building libraries, and sponsoring teachers. Munira was awarded the UN Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award, which honors young people fighting for universal education. She was one of nine recipients chosen from around the world to receive the honor. Munira was invited twice to attend the annual White House Iftar dinner, which celebrates Muslim-American trailblazers both in the public and private sector.

During her free time, Munira enjoys writing, performing spoken word poetry, and creating pottery in a ceramics studio.

Read the Press Release »

About the U.S. Youth Observer Program:

Created in 2012 to elevate youth voices in the global policy dialogue, the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN is a role appointed annually by the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) and the U.S. Department of State. For a one-year term, an American between the ages of 18-25 is selected to engage young people in the U.S. in the work of the United Nations and international issues. As a correspondent between U.S. missions to the UN and American youth, the Youth Observer travels throughout the United States to discover the issues important to young Americans and participates with the U.S. delegation at international organization meetings, including at the UN General Assembly in New York. The U.S. Youth Observer to the UN position is a program of the U.S. Department of State and is operated by UNA-USA. Follow the U.S. Youth Observer program on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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