The number of children whose survival is in danger, or whose lives are blighted because of gender or poverty, remains stubbornly high. Almost half of the region’s children are underweight. South Asia has some of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality with, for instance, maternal mortality rates as high as 300 maternal deaths occurring for every 100,000 live births in some places.
Common themes provide a challenging environment for all those engaged in making South Asia a better place for children. These include a lack of education opportunity for millions of girls, social customs that accept extreme gender bias, and practices such as early marriage. Widespread exclusive practices on the basis of ethnicity, caste, language and gender make the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) for the region more difficult. And where some countries at a macro level are set to achieve their MDG targets, sub-nationally enormous gaps remain.
South Asia is also a region prone to natural disasters such as flooding, cyclones and earthquakes, as well as heightened political tensions and turbulence.
UNICEF works to achieve its goals and improve the environment for children by working through governments, UNICEF Country Offices, international agencies and local partners throughout the region.
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Ms Karin Hulshof is UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia based in Kathmandu. She is responsible for oversight, ensuring overall policy and programme coherence and regional as well as global advocacy for UNICEF in the eight countries of South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).
From February 2005 to June 2008 Ms. Hulshof, as Director of Public-sector Alliances and Resource Mobilization Office (PARMO), was responsible for coordinating UNICEF relations, policy dialogue, overall resource mobilisation towards donor Governments, Global Funds and Foundations and International Financial Institutions.
Ms. Hulshof joined UNICEF in June 1987 as a Junior Programme Officer in San Jose, Costa Rica, under a programme sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands in cooperation with UNICEF. She was in charge of two programmes, "Women in Development" and "Urban Basic Services". In November 1989, Ms. Hulshof was appointed as Project Officer, Family/Child Welfare in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In this capacity, she was responsible for formulating and negotiating the overall strategies and plans of action for implementation of urban basic services with governmental and non-governmental organizations. She was subsequently transferred to Brasilia, Brazil, in October 1992 where she served as Project Officer (Programme Management), responsible for the programmes in five zonal offices. From January 1997 to March 2000, Ms. Hulshof served as Programme Officer in Brussels, Belgium, where she was responsible for the coordination and negotiation of emergency and development programmes with the European Commission and the European Parliament, until her reassignment to Bucharest, Romania. Ms. Hulshof also served as Area Representative in Romania and to the Republic of Moldova from 2000-2003. During her tenure, she was responsible for the overall planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of both country programmes. From January 2003 to February 2005 Ms. Hulshof served as Director and Chief of Staff, Office of the Executive Director New York. During her tenure, she provided support and strategic advice to the Executive Director and helped to guide the decision-making process at the executive level.
Prior to joining UNICEF, Ms. Hulshof worked in the Netherlands as Project Coordinator/Interim Manager for RAJA-Drenthe Institute from January 1986 to February 1987, and worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Criminology in Groningen (1980-1981).
Ms. Hulshof is a national of the Netherlands. She graduated from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands with a Master's degree in Social Science and specializations in Economics, Spanish, Cultural Anthropology and Education in June 1985. She became Honorary Fellow of the Senate of the University of Bucharest, Romania in 2002.