We continue our series to celebrate the accomplished and visionary women working at UNVIE with Political Assistant Christa Mikowicz. Christa answers questions about her work, what inspired her to take up this career path, and why it’s important to promote gender equality in government and in STEAM.
Describe your job / what you do?
I am focused on illicit drugs across the world – opioids, cannabis, and others. My job is to work with the United Nations in Vienna to ensure that the United States’ voice is heard in the international community as it relates to our stance on drugs.
How did you decide on this career path?
I spent my career in finance. I promised myself that once I paid off my (very expensive) MBA, I’d quit my finance job and do something I was passionate about. I lost my little brother 5 years ago to suicide after his long addiction to drugs, and working in this space makes me feel like I’m honoring his memory in some small way.
What is it like being a woman working in a STEAM field?
It’s great! I love learning from other women ahead of me who have paved the way.
Why is it important that women work in STEAM fields?
It’s important that women are represented in all fields and at all levels. By the nature of our experiences as women, we can bring a new perspective to tables full of men. Diversity of thought and new perspectives bring innovative solutions to businesses, governments, and NGOs.
How does the work you do help UN member states and improve the lives of people around the world?
The work my team does is so, so important to UN member states and people around the globe. We attack the world drug problem from two main angles – supply reduction and demand reduction. Supply reduction is what you might see on TV – big drug busts, tracking criminal organizations, keeping our eyes on drug trafficking routes, and preventing drugs and precursor chemicals from being grown or produced. Demand reduction is more about providing prevention programs, treatment / rehabilitation programs, and other support to people who are addicted.
How does your work further U.S. interests?
The U.S. is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in our history – the opioids crisis. For the twelve months ending July 2020, it’s estimated that over 86,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses, and that doesn’t even count opioid-related deaths like murder and suicide. This is the highest number ever recorded in a twelve month period. The crisis is touching families across America – in rural areas, in urban areas, in communities of every color and socioeconomic status. All Americans have an interest in protecting their family members from drug addiction, and our work here at UNVIE aims to do that on the highest level. Through coordination among law enforcement agencies in different countries, sharing best practices in legislation across the world, and many other activities, we hope to stop this opioid crisis both globally and domestically.