IDDIPs Dispatch from the Virtual Field: Mackenzie White, JPC for UNDP Pacific
By Mackenzie White
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
Picture 1: Junior Professional Consultant Mackenzie White
My name is Mackenzie White, and I am writing to you remotely as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) in the IDDIPS program with UNA-Canada. My placement is in the gender department at the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Office, located in Suva, Fiji.
I have really enjoyed my experience so far and have gained meaningful insight into the work that the UNDP conducts on the ground globally. I have expanded my technical knowledge of sustainability, policy engagement, and operations for international organizations, as well as my network of professionals and civil actors in the field. I have also utilized my critical thinking skills and managed my responsibilities all from the contents of my laptop- and with a 17-hour time difference between Suva and Toronto!
The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji supports initiatives in fifteen South Pacific Countries and oversees approximately 2.4 million individuals. The mandate of these operations includes effective governance; inclusive growth, resilience, and sustainable development for these countries to aim to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (depending on each region’s varied needs and context). Areas of work include policy and data analysis, participatory planning, and community engagement, as well as budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation to support these aims. The gender department is particularly concerned with supporting vulnerable populations of women and youth who are disproportionately impacted by socio-political and economic barriers to participation and sustainable livelihoods.
There have been two main projects that I have been a part of throughout my placement. My department focus on is working towards the achievement of SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, as well as engaging with the intersectionality of the other 16 goals. Both concerning policy analysis, my responsibilities have ranged from preparing key summaries about initiatives, attending team strategy meetings, and maintaining open lines of communication between my supervisors at UNDP Pacific, UNA-Canada, and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The first project was concerned with gaining approval for the UNDP Gender Equality Seal for this office, which recognizes the good performance of UNDP regional offices in delivering transformative results for gender equality. I was part of the team to deliver an analysis of more than twenty gender-based initiatives across the South Pacific to provide evidence for the approval process. The second project is analyzing the current practices in the office for gender engagement, awareness, and sustainability. After much work and collaboration, a thorough evaluation and recommendations have been made to further improve the ongoing efforts within our own operations for gender equality.
Image 2: Mackenzie White with past colleagues at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2020
This placement is my final component of the Master of Arts in Global Governance program at the Balsillie school, and I look forward to graduating in June and transitioning into my career. My time as a JPC in the IDDIP program has provided me with some unique opportunities to expand my network, improve my technical skills in policy analysis, learn about cross-cultural engagement and the relationships between societal access, and so much more!