Baroness Valerie Amos, 60, from Georgetown, British Guiana (now known as Guyana). United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs – and quite possibly the busiest woman in the world right now.
After cutting her teeth in London local government during the Thatcher era, in her early thirties Amos became Chief Executive of the UK’s Equal Opportunities Commission. She was made a Labour life peer in 1997 then Leader of the House of Lords, and became the first black woman to sit in the UK Cabinet when she took up the mantle of International Development Secretary in 2003. Ban Ki-moon, the Big Cheese over at the UN, announced Baroness Amos’ appointment to the role of USG in 2010.
WHY SHE’S A WONDER WOMAN
A champion for the underdog, Baroness Amos was a spokesperson for social security, international development and women’s issues in the House of Lords – not an institution that’s particularly well-known for its right-on thinking. Then there’s her implausible stamina and work ethic. Amos travels on average two weeks out of three; but we’re not talking Contiki Tours here. She’s at the frontlines of the world’s humanitarian crises.
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
“Take the rest of the day off, guys”. Baroness Amos’ job is to make sure that aid gets to people who need it. Needless to say, she’s had her work cut out for her lately: with things simultaneously going pear-shaped in places like Syria, Gaza, South Sudan and Central African Republic, UN funding appeals have risen to a record $16 billion in 2014, up from $4 billion ten years ago.
BEST KNOWN FOR
Her no-nonsense demeanour and that over-the-spectacle glare.
WHO’D PLAY HER IN ‘OCHA’, THE MOVIE
Herself. What’s yet another role for the indefatigable Baroness Amos?
Complacency. Amos had stern words for the UN Security Council back in February when she briefed them on the situation in Syria. At that time, talks on getting humanitarian aid into that country were at a stalemate, and efforts to achieve temporary ceasefires deadlocked as the Security Council struggled to draft a resolution. “All parties are failing in their responsibility to protect civilians,” she said in a statement. “We understand that a war is going on. But even wars have rules.”
WHERE SHE’LL BE HOLIDAYING
After all that jetsetting? My guess is she’ll be taking in some of the lovely English countryside.