Evelyn Kachaje: Keeping UN Standards High and Giving a Voice to the Vulnerable
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemaking leaders! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Evelyn Kachaje, who serves as a legal officer in the UN International Organization for Migration. Let’s see what she’s doing to have a positive impact.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Evelyn! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?
Evelyn: My work relates to legal affairs within the UN itself. I began at the UN World Food Programme in Rome, Italy, and am now at the UN International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Switzerland. Unlike other kinds of lawyers at the UN who work on the particular mandate of their organization and the laws related to program implementation, such as food security or migration, my team works on the laws relating to the staff of UN organizations themselves. A large part of our work is addressing misconduct within the UN to ensure that the organization only employs people who can conform to the high standards of conduct expected of international civil servants. By addressing issues such as harassment in the UN, we help to ensure that the UN stays a safe and inclusive environment to work.
Spiffy: That is crucial work! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?
Evelyn: As a young woman who started as an intern in the UN—also as a black woman, as an African woman—I have seen the importance of having a workplace that supports you and that cares about making the space you occupy one that not only is safe, but also helps you thrive. The fact that I can play a role in making sure that our working environments are free from harassment and discrimination makes me very motivated to keep doing this work!
Spiffy: Wonderful! What would you say is the impact of your work?
Evelyn: Our work helps some of the most vulnerable members of our workforce by giving them a voice and assurance that the organization takes matters such as harassment and discrimination seriously. It also ensures that, by dealing appropriately with those staff members who do not conform to the standards of conduct, the organization continues being able to focus its efforts on the important work at hand (i.e. furthering the SDGs) without hindrance.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Evelyn: The UN is an incredible place to work, and it is such an honor to play a role in furthering a set of goals as important as the SDGs. I also would love to encourage young people, and young women in particular, to understand that this world belongs to you too! My work continues to keep me motivated and excited about the future of the UN. Thanks again for having me, Spiffy!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Evelyn—it’s been an honor!
Born in Malawi, Evelyn Kachaje has lived in Botswana, South Africa, Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Italy. She first joined the UN at the World Food Programme in Rome, Italy. She is currently based in Geneva, Switzerland, where she serves as a legal officer in the UN International Organization for Migration. Evelyn graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude from York University, an LL.M. from Stockholm University, and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 27, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.