On 18 June, the Japanese Government announced its decision to decorate Ms. Toraya Ahmed Obaid, former Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japan’s policies on maternal health through the United Nations and international cooperation in the fields of population and development.
Ms. Obaid is the first Saudi Arabian to lead a United Nations agency. She has continually striven to tackle problems related to population and development, especially the improvement of the health and social position of women and adolescents, during her long career in the United Nations. As UNFPA Executive Director, she made important contributions to support country programmes directed towards building the capacity of women.
Ms. Obaid attached great importance to the relationship with Japan and paid 10 visits to Japan during her tenure as UNFPA Executive Director. She persistently promoted policies to which Japan attaches great importance, most notably, human security and maternal health. It was this spirit of cooperation between Japan and UNFPA, fostered by Ms. Obaid, which resulted in the successful conclusions of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako summit.