Esuna was born and grew up in the Republic of Buryatia, a region of indigenous people of the Mongolian origin and a centre of Buddhism in Russia. Her hometown – Ulan-Ude – lies along the Trans-Siberian Railway and is a few hours away from Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. When she was an undergraduate student at St. Petersburg State University, she used to take a 5-day train ride to Ulan-Ude every summer, which was the most economical means to get home.
Since childhood Esuna has been driven to learn more and make a meaningful contribution to society. It is this thirst for knowledge that motivated her to apply to Cambridge University after a year abroad in Beijing. She was awarded a full scholarship for her MPhil and then PhD studies at Cambridge which she completed at the age of 26. Based on her experience studying at Cambridge, she wrote a book «The Star of the Nomadess: In Harmony between the East and the West» which received 'The best publication award' in 2016 by the journal “Baikal” (Buryatia).
Her motivation to make a positive impact brought her to the UN, first in Geneva and then in its headquarters in New York, where she has led data analytics, research and accountability for gender equality and sustainable development in over 100 countries. As part of her portfolio, she created an acclaimed global policy tracker with over 5,000 policy measures that has informed governments, practitioners and civil society around the world. In 2017, she became a laureate of the Chevening award by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for her contribution to international development.
In parallel with her policy work at the global level, Esuna conducts research about her homeland Buryatia and its history, culture, religion, and language. In 2021, she established the global Buryat club "Buryad sedkhel" to preserve the Buryat language and connect Buryat-Mongols around the world based on shared heritage. In addition to her mother tongue Buryat, Esuna speaks English, Russian, Chinese, French, Spanish and Burmese. She also studies Buddhist philosophy and in her spare time reads history and enjoys art.
Esuna's most meaningful contributions so far:
🔹 Writing the award-winning book “The Star of the Nomadess” in 2017 which has contributed to transforming mindsets and social norms about women’s agency in Buryatia with a population of 1 million people;
🔹 Leading the coalition at UNDP resulting in a position paper that influenced the adoption of the first-ever international policy in 2020, thereby creating better employment, access to healthcare, and learning for 10,000 workers in 130 countries;
🔹 Creating the global policy tracker in 2020 that monitors and analyzes socio-economic measures in response to COVID-19 in 221 countries through a gender lens, contributing to evidence-based policymaking and rated among the top three of the world’s most significant policy tracker initiatives;
🔹 Founding the global Buryat club in 2021 that serves to preserve the endangered Buryat language and cultural heritage for current and future generations, while strengthening transnational social capital.