By Alfred Nyakinda

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has appointed Prof Marleen Temmerman of the Aga Khan University (AKU) as the as the Chair on Youth Leadership in Science, Health, Gender and Education.

Secretary General and CEO, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO Dr Evangeline Njoka presents Prof Marleen Temmerman with the UNESCO Chair award

As Chair, she will be expected to empower young leaders and contribute to policies and development programmes on health and education amongst the youth in alignment with UNESCO’s priorities and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The development of networks in higher education, in particular through the UNESCO Chairs as focal points for the development of training and research, brings institutions in different regions closer together, with a view to giving new impetus to higher education establishments in developing countries,” said Dr Evangeline Njoka, Secretary General and CEO, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO.

A well-recognized global leader in women, child & adolescent health, Prof Temmerman is a former Member of Parliament in Belgium, and a member of the advisory group of the African First Ladies on Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer. She will continue serving as the Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Aga Khan University Hospital, East Africa.

“I am very humbled and honoured to be appointed the AKU- UNESCO Chair, and I am looking forward towards contributing to equitable investment in the next generation of young leaders in Africa,” said Prof Temmerman.

The University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN)/UNESCO Chairs Programme was established in 1992. It supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Cooperation Programmes in higher education institutions to enhance their capacities through the exchange of knowledge.

The programme facilitates collaboration between high-level, internationally recognized researchers and teaching staff at universities and other higher education and research institutions. Through the UNITWIN programme, it covers training, research and exchange of academics and offers a platform for knowledge sharing in multiple disciplines.

The position of Chair is normally established for an initial period of four years between UNESCO and an institution of higher education to initiate programmes in specific regions.

“There is a huge information gap on youth issues and it is our hope the UNESCO Chair will do lots of research on youth-related matters because the Kenyan government urgently needs this data,” said Lydia Mathia, Youth Advisor at the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.

Currently, the UNESCO programme involves over 700 institutions in 116 countries globally. It furthers UNESCO’s goal of supporting the contribution of national education sectors towards promoting better health and well-being for all children and young people across the globe. Contact: