Rita Houkayem
Rita Houkayem
Global citizen. Public Servant. Humanitarian.
Face (Rita Houkayem).jpg

Rita considers herself a global citizen, a public servant and a humanitarian. With a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a Bachelors in International Development Studies, French and Political Science, her continuous exposure to world issues has passionately driven her to make a difference in improving people’s lives.

Her recent international student experience in Paris had exposed her to like-minded changemakers and current and future global leaders. She was also hired by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an international development consultant to provide support in programs and publications on gender equality and comprehensive sexuality education in schools, striving to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, 4 and 5. As an intersectional feminist, Rita’s experience with the UN has shaped her into a fierce advocate for gender equality and women empowerment.

Rita’s globetrotting nature, adventurous spirit and polyglot skills have been enriched through her constant encounters with dazzling cultures, remarkable people and astonishing places. She has explored over 25 countries and over 60 major cities but has never felt so proud to be Canadian. In fact, Rita attributes her cosmopolitan identity to being born in Canada and raised in one of the most strikingly diverse cities in the world, Toronto, which has always allowed her to celebrate her dual heritage as a proud Canadian Lebanese. Rita is an active leader in her community and has founded a national chapter which seeks to promote her culture and connect her diasporic community together. She is also the United Nations DPI/NGO Representative for her cultural organization and promotes its initiatives at the UN platform. Rita is fluent in English, French and Arabic and conversational Spanish.

A former titleholder of various pageants, Rita was also on the other side of the pageant world. At only 22, she was the National Director for the Miss Emigrant Canada pageant where she mentored young beautiful ladies to proudly represent their heritage on stage and become active agents of their community. Besides volunteering and spending time with her loved ones, Rita maintains a healthy and active lifestyle through daily cycling, dancing, marathoning, hiking, martial arts and yoga.

Rita is currently working for the Government of Canada as a Policy Analyst focusing on various themes and programs related to Internet governance and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). She was also recently nominated as the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) focal point for her Sector (Strategy and Innovation). She is responsible for helping ensure that Canadian policies and programs being drafted and implemented under her Sector must always consider all Canadians’ needs (from all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, age etc.) and how they affect groups of Canadians differently to prevent inequity and ensure their empowerment. On another note, she is currently leading a Government-organized event to participate in the United Nations GIRLS IN ICT DAY. She is working with a team of government departments, non-profits and social enterprises to invite high school girls from Ottawa and showcase to them all the opportunities that exist when using Information and Community Technologies (ICT) for social impact and sparking their interest to work in that field. She believes that digital technologies are powerful catalysts to driving inclusive and sustainable growth but women’s participation is fundamental and hopes to help bridge the gender digital divide.

As Nelson Mendela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Rita is a firm believer that investing in the youth through education is key to a peaceful world and has dedicated over 15 years of her life volunteering and working with young people in various education settings. In fact, complimented by her entrepreneurial spirit, Rita is currently working on launching her non-profit which seeks to train young people into becoming global changemakers and develop the next generation of leaders.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. With that in mind, Rita hopes to become an influential leader one day for her country and world. 


Name *
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead