Karin Holmgrunn Sham Poo profile 800x600 womanleader GWLvoices
Her voice

“I had been fighting for gender equality since my late teens. I had worked hard to get more women in management and middle management positions in the banks I had worked at, and I had been a speaker on these issues at various meetings and conferences in Norway on several occasions. I was excited to work for an organization whose executive director was willing to focus on and set clear goals for women in the workforce.” 

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Ms. Karin Sham Poo served as general manager, marketing division, and senior vice president of the Christiania Bank in Oslo. She also held managerial posts with Bergens Kreditbank and A/S Kjobmandsbanken in Oslo. She was recruited to UNICEF Headquarters in New York in 1985 as its comptroller and became its Deputy Executive Director in 1987. She held the position until she retired at the end of 2004. This latter role was at the level of Assistant Secretary General.

She served as interim special representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict in 2005. This role is one at the Under Secretary General level. Afterwards, she was UNICEF Special Envoy to the Caribbean until the end of 2010.

Throughout her life, Ms. Sham Poo has been an advocate for women’s rights. From 1991 – 1996, she was the chairperson of the United Nations Secretary General’s Steering Committee for the Improvement of the Status of Women in United Nations Secretariat.