María José Alcalá was recently the Chief of Section and Senior Advisor of the Ending Violence against Women Section at UN Women (2007-2012).
In this role, she provided overall strategic direction, policy advice, programming guidance, technical assistance and leading advocacy on the issue with government, UN and civil society stakeholders and partners. She also headed the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, established by the General Assembly, raising its profile as a leading global fund on the issue.
Prior to joining UNIFEM, Ms. Alcalá served in various capacities over a decade of service at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), including as Senior Technical Advisor on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the Technical Support Division, as well as advisor on youth, and on gender and HIV/AIDS. In addition, she was principal author, researcher and media spokesperson for two UNFPA State of the World Population Reports (2005-2006)–one on reproductive health, gender and the Millennium Development Goals, the other on international migration and women.
With over 20 years of experience in international development both at the UN and with non‐governmental organizations, her work has focused on poverty and development, human rights, gender equality/women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and adolescent and youth issues.
Her expertise covers policy-oriented advocacy and strategy development, with various keynote and speaking engagements at international fora. While working with NGOs in the 1990s, she played a key role in mobilizing a global advocacy coalition and developing the key consensus documents on negotiation language that influenced the final agreements at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
She was also involved in helping place maternal mortality as a women’s rights and public health priority, particularly in Latin America. Born in Argentina and a national of Spain, Ms. Alcalá holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs (International Political Economy) from Columbia University.