“This is not a problem just in Africa — youth employment is one of the most serious challenge in all developing countries.”
— Ishrat Husain
Ishrat Husain has had a long career in formulating strategies, developing operations and managing health, population and poverty reduction operations at the World Bank. Now she works as a senior technical advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Africa Bureau. She travels often to Africa to provide technical support to the country field offices in her areas of expertise.
Throughout her career, Husain has been dedicated to improving the welfare of mothers and children and serving as their advocate. “Youth have been my interest for a long time,” she said. “I have been trying to raise awareness of youth unemployment problems in Africa. So many African youth are bright and capable and yet they are not able to fully realize their potential. The situation is changing and there is a greater recognition of the problem by governments and the international community. Efforts are being made to find solutions and implement them. But we have a long way to go. This is not a problem just in Africa — youth employment is one of the most serious challenge in all developing countries.”
The Potomac resident’s commitment as well as her caring and concern about youth keep her involved in their employment and education in the local area. “I try to do as much as I can for young people,” she said. “For example, I am involved in the youth program which the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF) recently organized— a summer internship and networking fair for high school and college students to give them experience in interviewing skills, career guidance — and leads on summer internship opportunities. The fair was held on March 26, 2015 at George Washington University in Washington DC. It was a highly successful event. About 100 students visited the fair and talked to 11 potential employers.”
A few months ago she helped to organize a program attended by 45 students on “The Best Practices for Completing a College Application.” She is on the board of MCMF, a charitable social service organization supported by Montgomery County government for the care of elderly and homeless. In addition, Husain volunteers and supports other organizations such as Miriam’s Kitchen.
Husain was educated at Lucknow University in India where she received master’s and Ph.D degrees in economics. She completed her post-doctoral program in economics and demography at Princeton University. She was employed at Lucknow University as the deputy director of the Demographic Research Center from 1966-1970, a job in which she advised the state government in its population policies on the basis of her analytical work.
Then she moved on to the World Bank in Washington D.C. where she served in various capacities including project officer and chief of the Human Resources and Poverty Division. Husain developed the first World Bank strategy for HIV/AIDS and also established the African Health Panel to develop a framework of actions for improving the health status. This framework was published as a book, “Better Health in Africa.” It has been the basis of health policies in several countries. As World Bank chief of Population, Health and Nutrition Projects, she was responsible for developing and financing health, nutrition and population operations in Latin America, East Asia and West Africa. Husain also helped the Bangladesh government re-establish its population programs after its Civil War. She oversaw the first-ever review of China’s health program and managed a multi-million-dollar budget and lending portfolio at the World Bank.
“I am fortunate because my interest in young people has given me the opportunity to create policy in their favor,” said Husain. “At USAID, I helped in creating awareness of youth issues and subsequently, USAID has developed an excellent youth policy that is being implemented. I also have been promoting a broad multi-sectoral program for family planning and maternal and child health.” In recent years, she has been helping USAID develop the capacity of the countries to improve the generation and utilization of local financial resources to attain self-sufficiency in their health and family programs.