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Dr. Gupta’s Ambassadorship Is A Win For Women – And The World

Ambassador Geeta Rao Gupta


By Mike Beard and Sia Nowrojee 

Political appointments can be a funny thing. There are times when you scratch your head about the credentials of a nominee who winds up sailing through their confirmation. Some of those nominees do well, thanks in large part to the incredible work of civil servants who surround them. Others initially feel like a great fit and are less successful.  

Then there are times when a nominee is put forward and you just think, “Wow, they’re not already in that role?” Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta is one of these nominees.  

As a colleague of ours at the UN Foundation, every aspect of Dr. Gupta’s personal and professional journey feels tailor-made to serve her — and all of us — as Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. State Department. Indeed, it seems almost comical that other names were even explored, and equally frustrating at how long it took for her nomination to come before the full Senate for a vote.  

Dr. Gupta has made a career of understanding and advocating for gender equity, consistently bringing women and girls into the center of every conversation about development. From leading innovative research on the social and economic risks faced by women with HIV to strengthening UNICEF’s efforts to understand the drivers of poverty, her work is shaped by the conviction that we all do better when girls and women do better. 

Her work has engaged nonprofits, research institutions, governments, and the private sector, giving Dr. Gupta that rare firsthand experience across the entire ecosystem of development. Serving within and alongside diverse stakeholders has also grounded her passion for the principles of gender equity with the practical challenges of implementation.  

Born in India to parents who valued public service, Dr. Gupta moved to the U.S. with her husband and daughter over three decades ago. Now a U.S. citizen, her commitment to public service also shows up in her own neighborhood, where she plays an active role in the community. She is a mentor to countless women and men, generous with her time and wisdom, and demonstrates that leadership can be both warm and unwavering in the face of injustice.  

We’re especially grateful to Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Tim Kaine, and Robert Menendez, who saw in Dr. Gupta the same fierce champion and outstanding leader that we’ve long known. Their support of her nomination was essential to her confirmation. Now more than ever, as we bear witness to gender-based violence in Afghanistan and around the globe and feel the pandemic’s impact on undermining progress for girls and women worldwide, this is our moment to bring a lens of gender equity to all policies and practices.  

Thank you to Senators Schumer, Shaheen, Kaine, and Menendez for making this day happen. The world is better for the leadership of Dr. Gupta, and we look forward to working with her.

Mike Beard is the executive director of advocacy at the Better World Campaign. Sia Nowrojee is senior director for Girls & Women Strategy at the UN Foundation.