UN Stories, U.S. Voices: Donya Nasser

“Reach for the stars, but leave one arm on the ground to help your community.” 


Donya Nasser is a former U.S. Youth Observer to the UN turned Director and Youth Representative of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Her dedication to the vision of the United Nations shows through her commitment to gender, peace, and security efforts through the promotion of education and supporting young people around the world. 

Donya credits discovering the UN through watching the news, saying “it is this mega entity, I didn’t really understand its scope, just that it was the most powerful institution in the world.” Donya, who is Iranian-American, is focused mainly on engaging youth around the world. She’s held several prestigious positions in organizations focused on literacy and civic engagement. She was named US. Youth Observer to the UN in 2015. “Because of my identity, I always felt that I was doing this for women all over the world who had the same experiences as me, and the UN was the best way to do that because it was able to bring us all together.” 

Donya discussed the importance of our role in a global community and how we must understand the impact that we play in setting the standard for human rights. “Empowering young people, educating people about youth voices, and fighting for gender equality are three things that I find really important and work on every day,” said Donya. She stresses the importance of equal access to technology, explaining that because of the exposure of social media, issues are no longer localized. Issues such as women’s lack of reproductive healthcare due to poverty in rural areas have been globalized by the media and are now being addressed.

“I believe SDG 5, Gender Equality is one of the ‘hottest topics’ being discussed at the UN that brings us all together. We have all experienced something that triggered the realization that you have experienced some form of inequality,” said Donya. Women are disproportionately affected by issues like climate change, poverty, and inadequate access to education. Increasing intersectionality in feminism and the education surrounding it is crucial to understand SDG 5 and how promoting the safety, peace, and security of women everywhere benefits everyone. 

The job of a U.S. Youth Observer to the UN is never done. We need more champions, like Donya, for gender equality. Urge your Members of Congress to work with the UN to achieve gender parity by 2030.



In a series called “UN Stories, U.S. Voices,” we will be finding opportunities throughout the year to highlight some of the amazing histories and connections UNA-USA members have to the UN to celebrate its 75th anniversary.