Rita Houkayem
Rita Houkayem
Global citizen. Public Servant. Humanitarian.

A glimpse into Rita's world

 
 
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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 have passionately driven her to make a difference in improving people’s lives.

Her 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 equity.

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. 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. RIta recently co-led a government-organized event to participate in the United Nations GIRLS IN ICT DAY, encouraging high school girls to consider careers in ICTs and create social impact through digital technologies. She believes that technology is a powerful catalyst to driving inclusive and sustainable growth but women’s participation is fundamental and hopes to help bridge the gender digital divide.

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. Rita is currently a Chin Radio Host, Canada’s multicultural multilingual radio station, where she interviews influential individuals that are making an impact in her community. On a weekly basis, she highlights on CTV Morning Live Ottawa the various multicultural events taking place across the city. Rita believes that Canada’s beauty and strength is characterized by its diversity and its cultural mosaic should always be celebrated!

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 individual in her community, often found promoting her culture and connecting with her diasporic community through various community events, speaking opportunities and international trips. 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.

Rita has had various opportunities to represent Canada at various pageants nationally and abroad. She recently represented Canada at Reinado Internacional del Cafe 2019 – Colombia’s second largest pageant – and brought back the People’s Choice award. Rita has also been 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 hot yoga.

A recipient of the Humanitarian Award and a global ambassador for SOS Children’s VIllages – the largest charity organization for orphaned and abandoned children – Rita has managed to raise over $50,000 over the years for the aforementioned organization. Her recent trip to Lebanon and the important partnership she has built with SOS Lebanon will focus on empowering vulnerable mothers to help them meet the immediate needs of their children in the short term, while developing their capacity to meet the needs of their children independently over the long term. Rita is a firm believer that investing in the youth and women through education, tech and entrepreneurship is key to a peaceful just world.

“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. 

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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