Azita Berar Awad (MIR '79) is former Director of the Employment Policy Department of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
An Iranian and Swiss national, she joined the Institute in 1977 in her third year of the Licence ès sciences politiques (études internationales), then jointly delivered by the University of Geneva and the Institute. She chose the Institute for two reasons. First, she could pursue her interests in political science and economics simultaneously. Second, teaching was delivered in both English and French.
Following the completion of the Licence, Azita Berar Awad pursued postgraduate studies at the Institute, during which she was rapidly attracted by the surrounding international environment. After a few short-term research assignments with UN agencies, she joined the ILO in 1983, on a new programme of cooperation for the socio-economic integration of refugees in the Horn of Africa. In her subsequent 34 years at the ILO, until December 2017, she worked on a range of global challenges and policy responses, including gender equality, rural employment and poverty eradication, combining perspectives of inclusive development, economic efficacy and social justice. Applying the interdisciplinary methodologies acquired at the Institute to her professional responsibilities proved to be an invaluable asset and a systematic reflex.
Azita held positions such as Director of the Multidisciplinary Team of ILO’s Regional Office for Arab States in Beirut and Director of the National Policy Group in the Policy Integration Department. From 2006 until 2017 she was Director of the Employment Policy Department, leading the ILO’s global team supporting the design and implementation of national employment policies for promoting full, productive and freely chosen employment and decent work. In 2016 she designed and launched the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, which brings together 22 UN entities, governments, private sector and other partners to scale up action and impact in support of the 2030 SDG agenda. Azita also played a pivotal role in promoting new international labour standards. With respect to the informal economy, she led the ILO work that resulted in the adoption by the International Labour Conference in 2015 of the Recommendation (204) on the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy, and in 2017 of the Recommendation (205) on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience in countries affected by conflicts and/or disasters.
Interdisciplinary analysis, dialogue and international collaboration for addressing global challenges are common threads linking Azita's studies at the Institute with this professional journey. She met her spouse, Ibrahim Awad, at the Institute. A PhD holder from the Institute, Ibrahim is himself a former senior official of the UN system, who has also pursued a career in academia.
This article was published in the new issue of Globe, the Graduate Institute Review: http://graduateinstitute.ch/home/about-us/globe.html
Crédit image: WTO Public Forum 2014, Day 3 (original)