A Canadian Millennial wants to change the world and is looking to start at the top.
The Indian-born, 34-year-old Arora Akanksha is running to be the next secretary-general of the United Nations, aiming to both break a glass ceiling and take charge of an organization she says needs big change.
The candidate, who goes by her family name Arora, has worked at the UN for about four years as an auditor in the United Nations Development Program. She was recruited from an accounting firm and has no diplomatic experience.
If Arora, who is running her international campaign from New York, beats incumbent Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of Portugal later this year, she would be the first Millennial and first woman at the top of the UN. Guterres is seeking a second five-year term.
The process of becoming UN Secretary-General is an arduous one where a candidate has to be nominated by a member state. The General Assembly appoints a person on the recommendation of the Security Council.
“It’s not serving those that it’s supposed to serve,” Arora told Et Cetera in an interview. She filed her intention to run for the position in February but has not received any endorsement from either Canada or India. She has launched her Twitter site for her campaign, UNOW.
“I know [the] UN is capable of doing great work but today we’re not seeing [the] UN deliver on the promises that it set out to do,” she said.
Arora explained for every dollar the UN receives, only about 29 cents goes towards a cause, while the rest of the money is lost to bureaucracy, something she wants to improve.
Many have criticized governments for the amount of money wealthier countries invest in the UN, arguing there is no benefit to them at home.
Arora said she understands younger generations may see the UN as irrelevant to their lives but made it clear she has big plans to make an impact should she lead the international organization.
“My goal is to make [the] UN one of the largest employers for young people,” she told Et Cetera, saying she wants to create opportunities for youth to be involved “in shaping the world.”
For Arora, youth are an “untapped resource” in the global fight against human-made global warming.
As secretary-general, Arora would help youth find employment by focusing on jobs related to the environment: reforestation, the cleaning of oceans, biodiversity science and producing green products.
“We need to invest in doing things differently.”
Laura Avellaneda is in her third year of International Development studies at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus and said Arora is a great candidate because of her experience within the organization and the message it brings as a woman.
“I also consider that having a woman as a candidate, and possible secretary can serve as an example for gender inclusive practices,” Avellaneda told Et Cetera.
Arora’s approach to the UN role in the world is through equity and equality, she explained, with a big part of this being universal internet access.
One of her promises if she wins the election in September is to establish a global Kindergarten to Grade 12 digital education platform supported by a global mentorship program.
“The development model that I’m proposing is bottom up, where we invest in people through [the] internet and education,” she said.
Arora also aspires to address the refugee crisis worldwide through voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement strategies.
The candidate is open to new ideas, too. She has forms online where she encourages anyone interested to submit ideas, taking a unique approach building her platform.
Mahek Khan, a first-year paralegal studies student, told Et Cetera that Arora taking charge of the United Nations would be a huge achievement.
“This is because as a minority, I do not see many politicians or people in related positions look like me and understand the experience of what it is like being a minority, in this case a south asian woman,” Khan said.
“Seeing this representation is very refreshing as we need someone who understands the experience to its core and doesn’t just claim to understand it for popularity,” she said.