A Global Initiative to Recentre and Repoliticize the Discourse around Violence Against Women


Executive Director – Masimanyane Women’s Rights International; Chair of the International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) - Asia Pacific

Dr Foster has a long history as a powerful activist for women’s rights. In 1995 she established the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, which has since grown into the cross-continental Masimanyane Women’s Rights International.  Masimanyane was the first organization in the Eastern Cape devoted exclusively to combating violence against women and girls, and Dr Foster remains the Director of the organisation, in addition to being an internationally global advocate working to end violence against girls and women.

Building on the community­based efforts of Masimanyane, she engages with national and global human rights activists and agencies, including the UN and other multilateral bodies to tackle these important issues on a bigger scale. As director of Masimanyane, Dr Foster chairs the secretariat for an International Network to End Violence against Women, drawing together organisations in about 42 countries focused on women in the global south.

Dr Foster coordinated South Africa’s  first NGO shadow report to the UNCEDAW committee in 1998. She assisted in developing South Africa’s Domestic Violence Act. Lesley  Ann  was  recently  elected  the  first  African  president  of  Amantiare,  a  pan  African  network  on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.


Executive Director - Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW); Co-Founder of the African Women’s Development Fund

Hilda Tadria is a renowned Ugandan feminist and gender equality activist. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Mentoring and Empowerment Program for Young Women (MEMPROW), which capacitates young Ugandan women to defend their rights and participate in leadership. Hilda has previously served as an Associate Professor in Sociology at Makerere University, a Coordinator of the Women in Development Programme at the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute and the Regional Advisor on Women’s Economic Empowerment at the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Hilda has provided expert advice on gender and development to a number of UN agencies and governments and has served on several Boards including the UNDP’s Africa 2000 Network, ISIS-WICCE International (Uganda) and the Centre for Basic Research (Uganda). Hilda is a co-founder and Board member of the African Women’s Development Fund which mobilises resources for women’s rights work. Hilda holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and Women Studies from the University of Minnesota.


President - National Organisation of Women

Ruth Manorama is a leading advocate for Dalit women in India. She has worked with impoverished communities all her adult life and in the early 1990s began to bring the plight of Dalit women to the international community's attention. She helped to organize a public hearing on Violence against Dalit Women in Bangalore in 1993, which led to the creation of the National Federation of Dalit Women. Ruth has served on numerous international and national bodies, including the Asian Women's Human Rights Council, the State Commission for Women (India) and the National Task Force on Women's Empowerment (India). She has helped to mobilize mass demonstrations in support of the rights of the poor and has travelled throughout India lobbying and advocating and building alliances between social justice movements. In 2006 Ruth was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for her commitment over decades to achieving equality for Dalit women.


Executive Director - Gender Studies & Human Right Documentation Centre; Deputy Convenor of Network for Women's Rights in Ghana (Netright)

Dorcas Coker-Appiah is a lawyer by profession and a dedicated women’s rights activist. She is a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Gender Centre) – a women’s rights organisation in Ghana with expertise in preventing violence against women, promoting women’s political participation and promoting young women’s leadership. Under Dorcas’ leadership, the Gender Centre commissioned a study looking at the links between gender, violence and HIV and Aids. The resulting report has been used to mobilise civil society to advocate for a gender-responsive National Strategic Plan for HIV prevention. Dorcas co-edited the first comprehensive study of violence against women in Ghana, which led to a six year advocacy effort by civil society organisations for the passage of a comprehensive law on domestic violence which was achieved in 2007. In 2006, Dorcas served on the Advisory Committee to the UN Secretary General’s In-Depth Study on Violence against Women. She also served two terms as a member of the CEDAW Committee from 2003-2010.


Director of Imkaan; Chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition

Marai Larasi is the Executive Director of leading UK-based black feminist organisation Imkaan which is dedicated to ending violence against black, minority ethnic (BME) and refugee women and girls. She is also Co-Chair of the End Violence against Women Coalition, the UK’s largest coalition of organisations working to eradicate violence against women and girls. Marai has worked on ending violence against women and girls for over 16 years and has developed and led cutting edge programmes which address gender-based violence within marginalised groups. She has also worked with women's groups on leadership development, coaching, mentoring, training and facilitation. Marai was number 80 in the 2013 World Pride Power List of the most influential LGBT people in the worlds of business, politics, arts and entertainment. She has also been awarded an MBE for her work with BME women.


Senior Advisor: Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud of Norway; NCA Programme Manager, Human Rights and Democracy Programme for Iraq

Ms Paul is a criminologist by profession who has worked on violence against women across Scandinavia, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East.  She has been part of a team situated within the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, working with achieving and promoting  gender  equality  in  Norway. The unit  is  part  of  the national machinery for implementing gender equality in Norway.

Ms Paul  has  conducted  numerous  national  and  international  research  studies  including a study  on forced  marriages  and  bigamy  in  Norway.  She  carried  out  research  and  produced  a  report  entitled“Alternative  strategies  for  immigrant  women”, and conducted  a  study  on  women’s  organisations  in India and their methods for combating violence against women in 1999.  She has also  conducted  research  projects  financed  by  the  Nordic  Council  of  Ministers,  on  battered immigrant women, their situation and needs and their legal status.

Ms Paul was a member of the working group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery under the UN High Commission on Human Rights, Geneva.  She also served as the coordinator of the Network against Trafficking and Prostitution, a network of organisations and NGOs in the Nordic countries doing anti-trafficking work.


Associate Director, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University

Savitri Bisnath works as an international consultant with nongovernmental, philanthropic and inter-governmental institutions. She has over 15 years experience working on issues related to economics, trade and development, women’s rights, conflict and natural disasters and has worked in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, the UK and the US.  She also serves as a Research Advisor to the Global Alliance to End Traffic in Women. Savi is co-editor of Global Tensions: Challenges and Opportunities in the World Economy (Routledge, 2004) and the Gender and Development Reader Vols. I & II (Edward Elgar, 2001). Her article, “Feminist Economics,” with Radhika Balakrishnan appears in The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics (Edward Elgar, 2012), and “Poverty and Gender:  An Analysis for Action,” with Lourdes Beneria, in The Globalization Reader (Blackwell, 1999). Savi has authored several practical tools, including the Guide to Gender Aware Post Disaster Needs Assessment (UNDP, 2010). Savi holds a PhD in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.


Director, Joint CEO of Justice Equality Rights Access International

A strong leader, Carole is a principal sector specialist in gender equality, transforming gender status-quo through policy, international development, peace, conflict and humanitarian settings.  She has a formidable record of work with Asia Pacific NGOs and has extensive experience of working in the international arena. Carole provides technical expertise and specialist advice to government, UN Agencies, civil society organisations and research institutions. Her areas are policy, strategy, programming, design, research monitoring and evaluation and advocacy in specific key areas of gender equality; these include working with men and boys, conflict and humanitarian settings, economic strengthening of women in conflict and humanitarian settings, GBV in conflict and post conflict/war settings and in natural disaster settings and response. Carole is the current Joint CEO of Justice Equality Rights Access International; Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific NGO Committee on the Status of Women and is UN Coordinator of Asia Pacific Women’s Watch.


‎Chief Executive Officer at Pacific Islands Safety & Prevention Project Inc

Rashida Manjoo is a Professor in the     Department of Public     Law, University of Cape Town, South    Africa.    She was the convenor of the    Human Rights    Program in the Law Faculty where she teaches, supervises and advises students. She also held    the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences from 2009 to 2015.  Professor Manjoo has over three decades of experience in    social justice and human    rights work both in South Africa and    abroad. Her research    interests include human rights broadly    with a particular focus on women’s human rights. She has authored a number of journal articles, book chapters and reports on women’s human    rights,    violence against women, transitional justice, and also the impact for women of the recognition of     Muslim Personal Laws    in South Africa.


Director: New Initiatives at Chicago Worker’s Collaborative, and Co-Coordinator of Chicago Foundation for Women Gender Equity Network

Ana Romero is currently the Director of New Initiatives at Chicago Worker’s Collaborative and the Co-Coordinator of Chicago Foundation for Women Gender Equity Network. Prior to that position, Ana was Director of the Centralized Training Institute at Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network. For 30 years, she has worked for the advancement of women’s human rights and against the structures that sustain women’s subordination and ill-treatment. She has collaborated with a wide gamut of indigenous, peasant, labor, and feminist social justice organizations in Mexico, Argentina, France, Spain, Philippines and South Africa. In May 2015, Ana had the privilege of being chosen by the NoVo Foundation, as one of 20 leaders selected nationwide to join NoVo’s groundbreaking 10 year program, Move to End Violence. She holds a Masters in Sociology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a Certificate of Executive Non-Profit Management from Loyola University (Chicago). Ana is fluent in Spanish and French.

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