Mary Racelis, member of Childwatch International Board
Mary Racelis is Research Scientist at the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University, and its former Director, as well as a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology. Her research interests have led to notable publications on poverty and wellbeing among urban poor children and youth, urbanization, community organizing and people’s participation, gender, and sustainable development. Publications include: Making Philippine Cities Child Friendly: Voices of Children in Poor Communities (2005), and Bearers of Benevolence: The Thomasites and Public Education in the Philippines (2001), along with numerous articles. Active in civil society affairs, she sits on several international and national NGO Boards, and was a founder of Anak Natin Foundaton (Our Children).
Her direct experience with children’s programs was heightened when she joined UNICEF in New York as Senior Policy Specialist, Family/Child Welfare and Women’s Development (1979-83). Subsequently she became UNICEF Regional Director in Eastern and Southern Africa (1983-92), supervising the work of its 24 country offices. She returned to the Philippines in 1992 as Country Representative of the Ford Foundation (1992-97), and has served since 1997 as a Consultant to the Philippine Government, UNICEF, and various multilateral agencies and international foundations.
She received her AB in sociology and anthropology from Cornell University, New York, her M.A. in sociology from the University of the Philippines, and honorary doctorates from De La Salle University (1985) and Ateneo de Manila University (2003). In 2003-04, she was appointed to the UN Secretary-General's Panel on United Nations—Civil Society Relations. Her current work focuses on socio-cultural and gender issues in pro-poor sustainable tourism in the Mekong countries as well as in dam construction in Lao PDR. Her current Philippine involvements address land acquisition strategies of the urban poor, and research on the everyday lives of adolescent and young adults in informal settlements. She is contributing her urban expertise to UNICEF Philippines’ growing interest in children’s rights in cities. Building children’s issues into all development programs is a particular concern.
An additional source of pride are her five children and 13 grandchildren