Exacerbating the Gender Gap: COVID-19’s Impact on Women and Girls

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04:00 pm


Zoom Web Event



To mark the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement, UNA Women will host an interactive panel on July 22nd, 2020 featuring the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, specifically focusing on issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as access to education. The panelists will include Verónica Simán, the Colombia representative from UNFPA, Caitlin Horrigan, the Director of Global Advocacy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Maliha Khan, the Chief Programme’s Officer at the Malala Fund. Moderating the panel will be Seema Jalan, the Executive Director of the Universal Access Project and Policy at the UN Foundation. This session is part of the UNA-USA GEOS series that connects external audiences with high level speakers and topics related to the United Nations and underscores the 75th anniversary of the UN. These semi-monthly one-hour sessions provide a broad range of topics surrounding the United Nations and offer exclusive access to UN experts and stakeholders.

Featured Speakers:

Caitlin Horrigan, Director of Global Advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)

Caitlin Horrigan is the Director of Global Advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). With over a decade of domestic and foreign policy experience, Caitlin drives PPFA’s global advocacy agenda with Congress and the Administration to protect and defend funding and policies that advance sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. She holds leadership roles in several advocacy coalitions and has led successful efforts to expand abortion access for Peace Corps Volunteers and build unprecedented opposition to the global gag rule. She previously worked as a Senior Legislative Policy Analyst at PAI where she focused on international family planning, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS funding and policy issues. Prior to that, Caitlin tracked state policy at PPFA and investigated potential first amendment violations with Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Originally from Amherst, MA, she graduated from Vassar College where she majored in political science and served as a campus coordinator for Democracy Matters. She has lived in DC since 2005.


Verónica Simán, Representante de País del Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas (UNFPA) en Colombia

Verónica Simán is UNFPA Representative in Colombia since April 1, 2019. She started her work at the United Nations in May 2008, when she joined UNFPA as an Assistant Representative in her native El Salvador and has served as Representative of Guatemala between 2014 and 2018, and as Acting Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Guatemala for eight months in 2016. Between 2008 and 2014, she was Assistant Representative in her native El Salvador

Before that, Ms. Simán worked with the Government of El Salvador for 14 years at different institutions promoting social development, sexual and reproductive rights, humanitarian response, Central American social integration, and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Ms. Simán has a PhD, and a Master’s degree in Sociology (with a specialty in Demography), and a Bachelor of Arts, in Economics and Sociology, obtained at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


Dr. Maliha Khan, Chief Programmes Officer, Malala Fund

Dr. Maliha Khan is Chief Programmes Officer at Malala Fund, spearheading the effective delivery of programmatic work for girls’ education, including the Malala Fund Education Champions Network. Dr Khan is an international expert in program design and performance, learning and accountability, with a focus on women and girls’ empowerment. She has designed rights-based programs focused on women and girls, been a professor of gender studies and has implemented women’s programs in marginalized regions of Pakistan. Dr Khan has worked extensively on frameworks for difficult to measure concepts such as resilience, gender empowerment, attitude and perception change. She has led program quality, impact measurement and knowledge management functions at CARE USA and Oxfam America.


Dr Khan has extensive experience in designing and implementing complex multi-country systems for large organizations and complex programs, and innovating the use of ICT, new forms of data collection and real time monitoring in M&E systems. While at Oxfam she oversaw the organization’s ICT for Development initiative and the Oxfam confederation wide “Responsible Data Policy”, the first policies of its kind in any development organization.

Most recently, Dr Khan has founded and led a start-up consulting firm that specializes in supporting clients in better decision-making through innovative information and measurement systems. She has also been a long-term consultant for Rockefeller Foundation and Girl Effect (Nike Foundation initiative). Prior to her international development work, Dr Khan has spent many years in academia, as an Associate Professor of Sustainable Development at World Learning’s SIT Graduate Institute and at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.

Dr Khan is from Pakistan, where she started her career implementing development projects. She has a PhD from the State University of New York and a MA from Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad in Social Anthropology.


Seema Jalan, Executive Director, Universal Access Project & Policy

Seema Jalan is the Executive Director of the Universal Access Project and Policy at the United Nations Foundation, a multi-stakeholder initiative of foundations and NGOs strengthening U.S. leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. The initiative has helped protect international family planning and reproductive health programs in the world’s poorest countries including supporting 27 million women and couples with life-saving contraceptive services and supplies.

Seema has almost 20 years of experience promoting gender equality and girls’ and women’s health and human rights globally; and serves on the board of the Funders for Reproductive Equity. Prior to the United Nations Foundation, Seema led Women Thrive Worldwide’s global policy work on aid reform, ensuring U.S. assistance reaches both women and men in developing countries, violence against women, and economic opportunity for women living in poverty. Her work with the U.S. government contributed to the adoption of the first-ever U.S. government strategy to address violence against girls and women globally, announced by President Obama in 2012; and USAID’s policy on gender equality and female empowerment. Seema has worked with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in Ethiopia, Women for Afghan Women and the United Nations. She supported U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney’s efforts to address the wage gap and gender inequity in the workplace.  As an expert on women’s reproductive health and rights, Seema is frequently quoted in top-tier media outlets including Slate, Foreign Policy, CNN, NBC, and Vice. She also routinely provides commentary on these topics in her Medium series and as a contributor to The Huffington Post, CNN, and The Hill. In 2007, she was honored as a Rising Star of politics by Campaigns and Elections magazine.

Seema received her Master’s Degree in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University and a B.A. in Mathematics from New York University.