Natalia Kanem

Dr. Natalia Kanem will deliver the annual Bonni Curran Memorial lecture.

The 13th annual Family of Woman Film Festival is approaching swiftly. With the film lineup and numerous other events confirmed, festival organizers have now announced the festival’s keynote speaker: Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Dr. Kanem is the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which the film festival aims to support every year by shining a light on the agency’s important work.

She will deliver the Bonni Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women on Sept. 8. The talk will stream for free via The Community Library.

Kanem’s talk will illuminate the potentially catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on women and girls around the world. The pandemic is only widening equality gaps and placing women and girls with limited access to healthcare and family planning in greater jeopardy.

Following the lecture, Kanem will answer questions from viewers, but those will need to be submitted in advance. Anyone who wishes to ask a question about UNFPA’s efforts or the global COVID-19 situation can submit to The deadline is Monday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m., so those wishing to participate must act this weekend.

“Women’s reproductive health and rights must be safeguarded,” Kanem said. “Services must continue, supplies must be delivered and the vulnerable must be protected and supported.”

Much of the globe has come to a standstill in the midst of the pandemic, and the UNFPA estimates more than 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries may not have access to modern contraceptives, resulting in more than seven million unintended pregnancies. COVID-19 has also made childbirth far less safe.

In addition to those concerns, the UNFPA estimates 31 million further cases of gender-based violence within a six-month lockdown, with 15 million more cases expected for each additional three months.

Kanem will discuss these issues and how the UNFPA—operating in more than 150 countries and territories—is making a difference.

“Dr. Kanem had been scheduled to deliver the Bonni Curran Memorial Lecture in February 2019, but she was called away on special assignment by the Secretary General,” festival founder Peggy Elliott Goldwyn explained. “We are honored that she will be able to discuss this critical issue with us for the 2020 edition of the Family of Woman Film Festival.”

Kanem’s lecture will kick off the festival on Sept. 8. Films will begin screening the following day and continue through Sept. 13. With the exception of a handful of donor-exclusive events, the virtual festival is entirely free. Visit for details on all the films and speakers.

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