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VVEngage is a Vital Voices signature fellowship supporting outstanding women political leaders making and influencing policy across the globe. Through this fully-funded fellowship, we aim to increase the capacity, decision-making power and effectiveness of women leaders in politics and government, shifting culture around women’s public leadership and moving towards equality in public representation globally. We also aim to work towards a more inclusive and equitable world by advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through policy.

Through this fellowship, Vital Voices advances women’s political leadership and the SDGs by conducting online and in-person* trainings with experts such as women leaders from the Vital Voices Global Network and professors from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The fellowship also connects participants to a global network of peers and mentors, such as current and former female heads of state with the Council of Women World Leaders, with whom they can brainstorm and share challenges and best practices.

Building on 25 years of leadership development work conducted by Vital Voices, the customized fellowship curriculum includes inspiring and rigorous courses in topics such as Leadership, Strategic Communications, Political Strategy and Governance. Fellows will acquire specific skills to achieve their goals and advance the SDGs in their communities.

*In-person trainings are subject to health and travel restrictions

We are currently accepting applications for the 2023 cohort of VVEngage.

Application Criteria

The 2023 cohort of VVEngage will consist of women leaders from across the globe who will be selected based on the following criteria.*

All applicants must fall into one of these categories:

  • Appointed or elected government official at the local, state/regional, national, or international level
  • Political party leader or functionary
  • Leader of civil society organization whose primary function involves working directly with government or working to get more women in politics/public life
  • Political Activist
  • Politically-active community leader from marginalized and excluded community that remains on the periphery of political activity in her country
  • Media professional

In addition, all applicants must fit all of the following criteria:

  • A minimum of three years in elected or appointed office, as the key decision-maker for a civil society organization, or in related political leadership work
  • Proficient in English
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the core principles of the “Vital Voices Leadership Model” – Innovative, collaborative, and driven by a clear sense of mission; engaged in her community; committed to working with different political ideologies; committed to advancing the status of women and girls; committed to transparency and good governance
  • Demonstrated leadership ability, high potential for future leadership development
  • Desire to engage with a global network of women in public life
  • At minimum, a basic understanding of the policy-making process in your community

*See application for full criteria

This fellowship occurs annually, with our 2023 programming running from April to December of this year. Selected fellows are expected to participate in the full length of the fellowship including virtual trainings and events throughout the year. If health and travel restrictions allow, we will hold one in-person convening. The time commitment is an estimated eight hours per month.

The application must be submitted by 11:59pm EST on March 26, 2023. You can access the application here:

For more information, please contact the Vital Voices Issue Advocacy team at

Meet The 2022 Fellows

Amanda Shatzko

2022 Fellow, Director and Vice-Chair

Amanda Shatzko is an award-winning artist, politician, athlete and scholar. Working at the intersection of creativity and leadership, her PhD research focuses on Canadian politicians and the role of creativity in decision-making to address wicked policy problems and impact social change. Prior to studying politics, Amanda worked notably as an artist and athlete for media and events, creating artistic projects and presentations in over 30 countries. She has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, a Top 40 Young Global Cultural Leader, Top 40 Under 40 in BC, and globally distinguished as a Top 100 World of Difference Award recipient for women’s economic empowerment.

In 2018, Amanda was elected as Director of BX/Silver Star and appointed Vice-Chair of the Regional District of North Okanagan. She is one of Canada’s youngest females elected to a mayoral position. An advocate for more women to have a seat at the decision-making table, she serves as a Senator at UBC, and sits on the board of directors of the BC Alliance for Arts and Culture, United Nations Association in Canada-Vancouver branch, Impact Toolbox, BC Municipal Finance Authority, North Okanagan/Columbia Shuswap Regional Hospital District and Okanagan Regional Library.


Amina Ahmady

2022 Fellow, Director-General of Afghanistan Customs Department

Amina Ahmady has over 11-years of managerial experience with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance focusing on the generation of Customs and domestic tax and non-tax revenue. she recently served as Director-General of the Afghanistan Customs Department she brought an extensive reform in the field of revenue and Customs Operation by introducing & implementing electronic systems Such as Valuation Module, Exemption module, online tariff system, the digital scale at border crossing points of Afghanistan and facilitated direct access to customs declaration process to national, international traders and exempted entities.

The corrupted system of customs brokers which was part of the customs mafia, was also removed from the customs clearance process. Nevertheless, most of the customs procedures were amended as per international best practice. She also served as a Director-General of Afghanistan Revenue Department (ARD) with 1200+ staff under her leadership, revenue generated increased from 189 billion/AFS to 208.2 billion/AFS within her first year and reformed 120 revenue collection management positions.

Prior to serving as Director-General of Customs, Amina served as Director-General of Value-added Tax (VAT), Senior Advisor to the Minister of Finance, and director of the Medium Taxpayers Office, Small Taxpayers Office, and Director of the Non-Tax Revenue Directorate, thereby providing her with a well-rounded background in overall Tax and Non-Tax administration. Amina received her Bachelor Degree in economics from Kabul University and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).

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Amisa Ahmed

2022 Fellow, Founder and Executive Director

Amisa Ahmed is the Founder and Executive Director of Nivishe Foundation, an organization that focuses on building community resilience using community based mental health interventions and trauma informed programs for social cohesion, targeting vulnerable and marginalized communities in Kenya. She is also among the youngest Muslims to serve as Secretary General of the Ukweli Party.

Amisa serves as a board member both global and national organizations SIASA PLACE, Young Women Leadership Institute and RHIZE. She is also the youngest global board of director at Restless development as well as a board of director for Amrell international School.

Amisa was recognised among the 100 influential young Africans in 2021 and 2021 African Youth of the Year, the 2021 Second Finalist for the Positive Role Model category in Eastern Africa in the 9th Gender Mainstreaming Award and the 2021 Finalist in the Spirit of Philanthropy – Individual Award –for the East Africa Philanthropy Awards (EAPA) among other awards. She has also participated in prestigious fellowships like YALI, Future Africa, Orygen Global fellowship for young Mental Health Advocates among others.

At a personal level she is involved in mentoring other women and Girls to pursue leadership positions both in the community and in organizations since she comes from the marginalized Nubian community in Kenya where there is a lot of stigmatization in relation to women and leadership.

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Arndis Anna Kristinardottir Gunnarsdottir

2022 Fellow, Member of Parliament

Arndis is a member of Althingi, the Icelandic parliament. She specializes in human rights and migration, having worked with refugees since 2009. She worked for the Icelandic Red Cross from 2014 to 2021, giving legal assistance and representation to refugees in Iceland, in humanitarian advocacy and diplomacy, international cooperation, advisory to the Icelandic authorities on immigration legislation and policy,

She held a temporary position in 2011 at the Icelandic ministry of the Interior as a specialist in migration, overseeing the application of Icelandic law and regulations in the field, ministerial supervision of the Directorate of Immigration, international agreements, and more. Arndis has also worked in child protection and as an independently working attorney. She has published academic articles and other writings in Iceland, France and the UK, mainly in the field of human rights and migration.

Arndis holds two Masters degrees in law and human rights from the University of Iceland (2009) and KU Leuven in Belgium (2013), respectively, and has been a member of the Icelandic bar since 2011. She furthermore initiated a PhD degree in human rights at the University in Strasbourg in 2017, which unfortunately was not concluded due to reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Bernadette Van den Berg-Slagter

2022 Fellow, Chairman

Bernadette van den Berg-Slagter is a sociologist and a Member of the regional Parliament of Drenthe in the Netherlands. She is also the chairman of her delegation. Beside her role in politics she works as a policymaker for a health-organisation. She is married and mother of two daughters. She loves to camp with her camper van in her spare time.

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Besa Ismaili Ahmeti

2022 Fellow, Professor of English and Former Member of Kosovo Parliament

Besa Ismaili is a professor of English and a former Member of Parliament in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo. She worked for many years for various international organizations in Kosovo. Her research and publications focus on politics, society, women and religions matters in Kosovo and the Western Balkans, which are also part of her doctoral degree. Besa is known for her activism on women’s issues and has been a prominent voice for empowerment and against discrimination, exclusion and marginalization.

An important part of her work has been related to post war society, working with victims, countering violent extremism, survivors of sexual violence during the war, reconciliation and memory. These issues have been also part of her political agenda and activism. Besa speaks six languages. She has been awarded internationally on several occasions for her contributions in peacebuilding and dialogue. She a mother of three and lives and works in Kosovo.


Camila Crescimbeni

2022 Fellow, National Deputy for the Province of Buenos Aires

Camila Crescimbeni is a political scientist, professor and politician from Argentina. She is currently one of the youngest Members of National Parliament in Argentina, representing the Province of Buenos Aires, and is a leading member of the PRO (Propuesta Republicana Party) at the national level. Previously she was President of the National Youth Wing of PRO Party. Between 2015 and 2019 she was Director at the National Youth Institute (INJUVE) and she was elected Councilwoman in Almirante Brown, Province of Buenos Aires at age 27.

She was awarded 100 Future Leaders by Apolitical, Leader of Tomorrow by St Gallen and Young leaders scholar by Fulbright. She teaches Social Contemporary Issues at University of Almirante Brown (UNAB) and was professor of Contemporary Political Science at Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) between 2012 and 2017. Camila got her Political Science Degree with Honors at Universidad de Buenos Aires, after being a scholar at Washington and Lee University and Université Jean Moulin Lyon III.

As a politician, she is focused on continuing to work on issues of Social Development; Environment and Sustainable Development; Education and Labor Market for Youth, Childhood rights and Gender and Equality, among others. She is the author of the “Yolanda Act”, her first law that was passed, which promotes training in sustainable development to all public officers of the Argentine state in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers of government.

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Cassandra Welchlin

2022 Fellow, Executive Director

Cassandra Welchlin, the Executive Director & Co-Convener of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, is a daughter of the South, raised in Jackson, Mississippi. As a loving wife and mother of three beautiful children, she balances the work & family with grace. She holds an undergraduate degree in social work from Jackson State University (where she became a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority) and a Master’s from Brandies University at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

As a licensed social worker, an advocate, organizer, and agent of change, her work spans over twenty years reforming public policy and organizing for power. Cassandra has been featured in national, statewide and local media outlets such as Bloomberg Law and Mississippi Today.

Cassandra is an active fellow in various programs & has been the recipient of several prestigious awards that include 2021 Whose Who Mississippi Women- Fannie Lou Hamer Award and most recently the Woman of Vision Award by the Ms. Foundation for Women alongside Ruby Bright of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Bozoma Saint John, Maxine Waters, Pamala Buzick Kim and Deja Foxx.

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United States

Claire Sugden

2022 Fellow,

Claire Sugden is an Independent MLA representing East Londonderry. Claire has been the only elected Independent in the NI Assembly in recent mandates. If elected in 2022, she becomes the longest serving Independent in NI history. In 2016, Claire was appointed NI Minister of Justice at aged 29 making her one of the youngest government ministers in the world, and the first female to perform the role in Northern Ireland.

As well as elected office, Claire volunteers for various community organisations. She sits on the boards of a community development organisation, an integrated primary school, a community theatre company, a mental health social enterprise and is patron of a charity which supports adults with learning disabilities.

Claire is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast where she studied for a BA in Politics, a MA in Irish Politics and is currently completing a Master of Science in Political Lobbying and Public Affairs at Ulster University. Claire is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program when she worked within the US government in the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010. She managed the Program in 2012.

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United Kingdom

Claudia Cornejo

2022 Fellow, Co-Founder and Board Member

Claudia Cornejo is an experienced public and private sector expert. She served as Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru until 2021. As a public official she also acted as Vice Minister of Tourism and National Director of Tourism Development. During her period as Minister she lead the team that elaborated the National Trade and Tourism Recovery Strategy after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Claudia has spent most of her professional career contributing on the strengthening of public private partnerships. She was CEO at the National Confederation of Private Organizations (CONFIEP), the largest private organization in Peru, which represents the most relevant industries in the country. As CEO, she created the first women in the private sector working group and the first human rights and enterprise working group.

Ever since the beginning of her career, Claudia has advocated for equal opportunities for women in the workplace and in the political arena. She was also the focal point for the Global Compact National Network, where she coordinated the efforts to promote the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, inviting organizations to join the initiative and engage in the adoption of its goals.

Claudia completed her MSc in Political Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism movement in Peru and is a member of the advisory council of TEDXTukuy.


Dian Fatwa

2022 Fellow, Senior Advisor to the Chairman of MPR

Dian Fatwa is the Deputy Secretary General of the National Mandate Party of Indonesia (PAN). Prior to this role, Ms Fatwa spent 18 years in Australia as a professional senior executive at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Melbourne Australia. She managed a diverse team overseeing Australia’s largest media network’s relationship with regional countries. She started her career as a TV news reporter, anchor, and documentary filmmaker in Indonesia. Her documentaries were nominated in numerous film festivals. During the pandemic, she established the Dapur Ibu Indonesia, a fresh and organic produce supplier linking smallholder farmers/producers to modern-trade and new markets.

Dian has been passionate about political activism for social justice and democracy since she was a teenager when her father was a political prisoner under the Suharto regime. Her commitment to public welfare is also evident from her volunteering for the Salvation Army’s Youth Street Program and Wesley Mission Victoria’s Children with Disabilities Support Program. Dian is a three-time cancer and Covid survivor.

Dian holds a Master of Corporate Environment and Sustainability Management degree from Monash University, Australia and a Bachelor in Journalism from Bandung Islamic University, Indonesia. She has also completed various leadership programs including the Asia Pacific Leadership (APLP) Program with the East-West Center, Hawaii, USA, the Asialink Leadership Program in Melbourne, Australia, and the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) in Costa Rica and Zimbabwe.


Dilrukshi Handunnetti

2022 Fellow, Executive Director

Dilrukshi Handunnetti is an international award-winning investigative journalist and a lawyer from Sri Lanka. She has worked extensively across South Asia, both as an on ground reporter and trainer, dedicating much of her time to working with women journalists in the region.

As an investigative journalist, she has broken stories on grand corruption and crime, conflict and communities, and dedicated significant time to report on women, children, health and environment. Her work has appeared in UK Guardian, New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Humanitarian, Mongabay and many others.

A recipient of many prestigious journalism fellowships, she won the covered Wash Media Award in 2014 for reporting on MDGs (Monitoring Category) by the WSSCC and SIWI for her report on school sanitation and the impact on girl children. In 2012, she won Sri Lanka’s top most journalism award, Journalist of the Year.

Dilrukshi works closely with media rights and human rights organizations especially with a gender focus. She is the co-convener of South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) – Sri Lanka Chapter and functions as the executive director of the Colombo-based Center for Investigative reporting (CIR).

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Sri Lanka

Dina Al Bashir

2022 Fellow, Member of Parliament

Dina Awni Al Bashir has been elected as a representative for the House of Representatives in Jordan since 2020. Prior to her election as representative, Dina was attorney at law in one of the most prestigious law firms in Jordan (International Business Legal Associates – IBLAW), and has worked on numerous issues including the legal framework of the Jordanian legal system.

Dina is considered to be one of the youngest MPs in the current parliament, and the youngest female that have been elected as an assistance of the speaker of the house. She is member in the legal committee in the parliament, and is an activist in regards to women’s equality and rights, also rule of law and justice. Dina has a law degree from the University of Jordan and Masters from Kings College London.


Horia Faizi Sardarzada

2022 Fellow, Team Leader

Horia Faizi Sardarzada is an Afghan young leader advocating for Afghan girls and women rights through academic research, media programs and community development initiatives. She is currently working as the Head of Department for gender and women’s programs with Afghanistan Economic & Legal Studies Organization (AELSO), and leading an informal network of Afghan diaspora called “Afghan Diaspora Community Initiatives ” to advocate for the serious situation of Afghans under the Taliban dictatorship. Previously, Horia worked as director general of women’s economic empowerment and child care at the ministry of labor and social affairs (MoLSA) in Afghanistan.

Prior to that, she served as deputy program director of women’s economic empowerment national priority program of World Bank and as an expert of gender with UN Women at the Office of the Afghan President on UN Affairs. She also served as a board member of women’s initiatives for sustainable energy (WISE), where she helped educate young women on energy efficiency and promoted women’s empowerment in the energy sector. Beyond this, she previously served as a WEP Asia Global Citizen Fellow for the Ban ki Moon Center for global citizenship in Vienna-Austria. Horia has done a masters of arts in linguistics and another in gender and women’s studies.

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Jamila Debbech Ksiksi

2022 Fellow, Member of Parliament

Jamila Debbech Ksiksi is the first black woman parliament deputy in Tunisia since 2014, as well as an independent politician and human rights activist. Jamila currently serves as a member of the Assembly office where she is in charge of relations with citizens and civil society. She’s a former member of the Pan-African Parliament where she was elected Chair of the Women’s Caucus at the PAP.

She is a Pan-Africanist activist working on solidarity among African peoples, and the Co-founder of the continental of African Women Leaders Network and coordinator of Tunisian chapter, AWLN-Tunisia. As a member of the board of Women and Politics Forum and representative of North Africa, she’s an activist and expert in Security and Social protection models and strategy; Parliamentary communication strategy; open parliament; parliamentary transparency; participatory approaches; electoral processes observation on the national and international level; taking actions against racism and gender-based violence and advocacy on intersectionality, women’s leadership, migrants, refugees and minority rights.

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Kawkab al-Thaibani

2022 Fellow, CoFounder and Gender/Communication Expert

Kawkab Al-Thaibani is a peace activist, women’s rights defender, and gender and communication expert in Yemen and the Middle East. Kawkab has led global and national strategies as well as research and analysis on economic empowerment, advocacy, gender, peace and security, and the Sustainable Development Goals, working with international organizations including UNDP and UN Women.

Kawkab is a seasoned trainer in peace, gender, and media in the Middle East region. She is the founder of She4Society initiative, a newly formed initiative aimed at empowering women to achieve peace. Kawkab is co-founder and former founding director of Women4Yemen Network, a network of women activists who advocate for women in peace and security in Yemen. She serves on the advisory board of the Yemeni Archive, an independent platform for documenting human rights and other violations by parties to the conflict in Yemen.

In 2019, Kawkab was recognized as one of TRT World Research Centre’s “Women of War” for her role in peacebuilding. Starting her career as a journalist, she published many articles for global media outlets such as El País and The New York Times. Kawkab completed the 2008 USA NESA Undergraduate Exchange Program in Jackson, Mississippi. She studied a master’s degree in Gender and Development at Sana’a University, Yemen, one of the first students to enroll in the centre co-established by the deceased Yemeni feminist Raufa Hassan.

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Kimhun Thit

2022 Fellow, Chairwoman of CNRPO & CNRPA Women Affairs

Kimhun Thit currently serves as chairwoman of Cambodia’s National Rescue Party Americas & oversees Women’s Affairs. Thit has been integral in advocating for bill HR 4686 Cambodia Democracy Act of 2021, S 3052 Cambodia Democracy Act and Human Rights Act of 2021, and S Resolution 427. Thit graduated with a bachelors in public health from Walden University. Thit was a Pharmacy Assistant for 14 years and a professor of Pharmacy Technology for 11 years. In addition to her medical expertise, Thit is a Khmer cultural ambassador, helping to preserve Khmer culture within the US diaspora.

Through her work at the Cambodian Cultural Center of North Carolina, Thit taught Khmer language classes and led a youth dance troupe. Understanding the value of diversity and inclusion, Thit collaborates with other minorities to showcase the strength of community. Thit’s passion to serve her community in culturally responsive ways led her to found the nonprofit Lexington Cambodia Community Center of NC. Thit is the bridge between elected officials and community members.

Thit’s driving force is focusing on the promotion of human rights, women’s rights, and democracy. Thit continues to work with women in and outside of Cambodia to amplify their voices and choices. It has been very tough for women inside the country who have raised their voices against the dictatorship’s regime. As an advocate for democracy, Thit partners with local and national stakeholders to fundraise and provide support for women in Cambodia. She is also a founder of Khmer Democratic Rescue Foundation (KDRF), a 501 (c)(3) that provides aid to victims of democracy seekers.

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Mariam Jalabi

2022 Fellow, Representative to the United Nations

Mariam Jalabi is the Representative of the Syrian Opposition Coalition to the United Nations in New York. She is also a founding member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement, where she is a member of the International Relations Committee. She has led the Syrian Opposition’s diplomatic engagement with the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and the UN agencies on inclusive peace and security. Her work focuses on women’s inclusion in politics and decision-making. Mariam’s advocacy and leadership has proven instrumental in framing that narrative on Syria with the UN and the international community.

Mariam has served as a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee to the High Negotiations Committee and was a founding member of the Syrian Non-violence Movement. She holds degrees in Political Science from McGill University in Canada, and a Masters Degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs with a concentration in Gender Studies. She has been honored by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders in the 21st Century” in New York City for 2017 and recognized by apolitical platform as one of the 100 most influential people in global gender policy for 2019.

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Matilda Zizolli

2022 Fellow, Director

Matilda Zizolli is the Director of Health Care and Integrated Services at the General Directory of the Social Care at Tirana Municipality, Albania. She is also a lecturer of Psychology at the Faculty of Social Science at Tirana University. She is an expert in the field of social services policy and human rights focusing in the child protection sector, people with disabilities and human trafficking.

Prior to those role she managed the Afghan Crisis Response for Spirit of America where she oversaw and coordinated care and safety services for Evacuated Afghans, In Albania.

In addition to this role, Matilda was the Director of Multidisciplinary Community Center at Tirana Municipality where she was leading the efforts to reduce the cases of children in street situation. Her contributions include the successful implementation of projects addressing the needs of children with disabilities during the role as the Head of Sector for Children in Street situation and she made a significant contribution on creating the protocol of Child Protection in Albania.

Matilda holds a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tirana and she holds a specialization on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by the European Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy.

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Monicah Amoding

2022 Fellow, Executive Director

Monicah Amoding served as Member of Parliament of Uganda from 2011 to 2021. She has worked and built capacity of others in the area of women’s rights advocacy, legislative advocacy, social sector programming and development and leadership development spanning over 17 years since graduating from university in 2004. She has helped found a number of organizations, has in the past sat and continues to sit on the Boards of some organizations. She is passionate about eradication of gender inequities and social injustices in society and raising leadership that can deal with these millennial challenges.

While working in various organizations, Monicah directly facilitated the advocacy processes for the enactment of such laws as; The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2010, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010, The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2010 among other important issues. Recently, while serving as a Member of Parliament over the 10 years, she focused on championing gender bills, women and other social justice issues. As chairperson of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) in the 10th Parliament, she initiated 4 gender related bills for UWOPA’s legislative advocacy agenda namely; Sexual Offences Bill, Succession (Amendment) Bill, Employment (Amendment) Bill and Marriage and Divorce Bill and personally moved the Sexual Offences Bill as Private Members Bill.

While in Parliament, she focused on gender, health, education, youth empowerment, national economy, human rights and other social injustice issues on the floor and in the committees, she sat on. She is currently engaged in leadership development and preparing young and new women political leaders for public office through training, awareness campaigns, mentorship and coaching.

She holds a Masters Degree in Gender Studies, Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences, and LLB (Laws), Diploma in Legal Practice and several certificates.

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Muqaddesa Yourish

2022 Fellow, Visiting Professor

Muqaddesa Yourish is a former deputy minister for commerce and industry of the previous government of Afghanistan. She currently serves as a professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. She is a compelling advocate for women, girls and young citizens of Afghanistan. Her writing has appeared in both national and international media outlets including the New York Times.

Muqaddesa has broad government experience, including service as a commissioner on Afghanistan’s national civil service reform commission, and prior to that, as human resources director of the Municipality of Kabul. She was also country director for Lapis, a top strategic communication firm of MOBY Group, giving her private sector experience. She has a range of expertise across international trade and commerce, governance, economic development and reform, human capital and strategic communications.


Natasa Mihailovic Vacic

2022 Fellow, Member of Parliament

In the elections held on April 24, 2016, Natasa was elected as a Member of Parliament for the first time. Parliamentary elections held on June 21, 2020 brought her second mandate as MP in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. She is engaged in the work of the Committee for Culture and Information and she is one of the coordinators of The Women’s Parliamentary Network. In her 25 year career in journalism, she had been reporting on the most important political and social events in Serbia and abroad. She is the author, and from 2004 to 2016 was director, of one of the most popular political TV shows in Serbia. She also took part in making several documentaries dealing with diverse cultural and political topics, with focus on women’s rights. She received many awards for her journalism as well as for her social contribution.

She is alumni of 2018 Open World Leadership program, Washington D.C., Cleveland, United States of America. She shares her knowledge by teaching in special training programs that deal with media, communication and public appearance. As an educator she participated in numerous projects focused on democratic values and modern society needs.


Hon. Neema Lugangira, MP

2022 Fellow, Member of Parliament

Hon. Neema Lugangira (MP) is a Member of Parliament in Tanzania who bring forward extensive experience and successful track record in championing policy and legislative reforms for improved investment enabling environment for the agricultural, mining and oil & gas and health sectors to mention a few. As a Parliamentarians her personal prioritised agendas include food and nutrition security; digital development, community health, gender equality in politics and NGOs sector development in Tanzania and across Africa.

Her continued passion and commitment for sustainable and economic development not only in her country Tanzania but also Africa led her to be the Founding Chair of the African Parliamentary Network on Internet Governance (APNIG) and the Founding Chair of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – Tanzania Chapter.

Hon. Lugangira is also the Founder of two NGOs; Agri Thamani, which is committed to ending malnutrition in Tanzania; and Omuka Hub that aims to accelerate digital inclusion in peripheral regions of Tanzania.

Internationally, Hon. Lugangira is a Member of the International Parliamentary Network on Education (IPNEd); the UNITE – Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases; serves as the Co-Chair of Global Parliamentary Group to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases; Vital Voices Fellow; and WSIS Gender Trendsetter for Advancing Digital Gender Inclusion.

For more information, connect with Hon. Neema Lugangira via her social media page on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Clubhouse using her handle @neemalugangira.

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Olena Galushko

2022 Fellow, Adviser in the Parliament of Ukraine

Olena Galushko is known Ukrainian business and political expert, activist, scientist. She has 25-years of professional experience, including: more than 20 years in top-management and professional consultancy on strategic and financial management, business-planning, marketing, HRM, crises management, diagnostics and optimization of enterprise’s management system for Ukrainian and foreign companies; about 14 years in top management of business-association; and 2 years of advisory work for Ukrainian parliament and Ukrainian delegation at PACE.

Olena is founder and CEO at ARLEN LLC consulting company, adviser on international relations and economics in the Parliament of Ukraine, expert of the annual “Innovation breakthrough” competition (awarded with gratitudes), member the Committee of Green services providers at Dnipropetrovsk Chamber of Commerce and Industry, expert of Ukrainian Startup Fund, partner at Association of Private Investors. In 2012-2013 she was member of Investment board by governor. In 2014 she was on of the founders the National Platform of Small and Medium Business. Olena is author the methodology of enterprise’s management optimization, have published 119 articles and 3 collective monographs on crises management, marketing, finance, innovations etc. Olena is also engaged in scientific and teaching work, provides trainings and master-classes, participates in international conferences, takes part in round table discussion and expert boards.

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Patricia Zanella

2022 Fellow, Cofounder and Marketing Director

Patricia Zanella is a Brazilian researcher, an environmental activist member of Limpa Brasil ( Clean Up Brasil ), a young politician a member of the REDE Sustentabilidade (Sustainability Network) Political Party since 2016, and a social entrepreneur co-founder of EcoCiclo, an initiative aimed at promoting women’s reproductive justice, including increasing the accessibility of sanitary pads to women in marginalized communities.

As a women’s rights advocate and proponent for social justice and sustainability, at the age of 22, Patricia ran for congress and received almost 10,000 votes. Using online tools and low-cost strategies to mobilize support for her platform, Patricia hopes to use her experience to encourage more young women to run for office.

Patricia’s work as an activist focuses on changing the young women’s political participation and the barriers to their political leadership in Latin America. She is a Fellow of the Hurford Youth Fellowship’21 of the World Movement for Democracy. She holds a master’s in International Law.

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Roxana Mînzatu

2022 Fellow, Secretary of State

A former Minister and Member of Parliament in Romania, Roxana Mînzatu currently serves as Secretary of State, working directly with the Prime Minister on optimizing and integrating public investment programs with the aim to accelerate development in key sectors lagging behind, such as water and waste water infrastructure or digitalization.

As MP she passed economic and social legislation: support schemes for Romanian start-ups, fair access to education for vulnerable children, support for digital education, women’s rights in the workplace, fighting domestic violence, better adoption procedures.

Roxana blends grassroot professional experiences, such as running a local non-profit business school or her own startup with high-profile public positions such as being the coordinator of the Romanian public procurement reform strategy, a pilot exercise jointly done by the European Commission and the Romanian Government in 2015.

Roxana is a politician passionate to connect people and organisations in order to transcend differences and work towards common goals. She also believes in the power of adaptive leadership, enhanced by technology and the new media, which equips communities with four key tools to generate positive change: clarity about problems and needs, understanding resources and biases, engaging all members in solution-building and enabling the community to learn from its experiences.

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Saleha Soadat

2022 Fellow, Journalist

Saleha Soadat is an award-winning multimedia journalist from Afghanistan. After the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021, she was evacuated to the United States. Saleha was born and raised in Kabul, and throughout her early life she experienced inequality, discrimination, injustice and civil war. After 9/11 and the arrival of U.S. forces along with the international community to expel the Taliban, things improved: She and other Afghan women became hopeful because they had the opportunity to get an education and grow professionally.

Without the Taliban’s anti-women policies, Saleha was able to complete high school and enroll in Kabul University, where she graduated with a degree in journalism and starting her career in radio and TV. Saleha was a regular contributor to ToloNews, a private news channel in Kabul, broadcasting the main bulletin every evening.

Saleha has earned multiple awards as a journalist in Afghanistan. Including a “Journalist of the year 2013” from Afghanistan Senate, “Best reporter award 2014” from Afghanistan Parliament (lower house); and was named a “Peace Reporter” by the United States Institute of Peace. These awards reflect her expertise, experiences and commitment to the causes that are so important to her. In addition to her journalism experiences, Saleha was an independent parliamentary candidate representing Kabul in the 2018 Afghanistan parliamentary elections.

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Spozhmai Wardak

2022 Fellow, Former Deputy Minister and Head of Women Shora

Spozhmai Wardak was most recently head of Afghan women (Southwest provinces) Shora. She was working as Deputy Policy and Plan Minister with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs from February 2015 until February 2021. There she was doing research and developing guidelines, administrative and technical policies and procedures for the whole Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Previously, Spozhmai worked with USAID, Chemonics International, Save the Children USA and Save the children International in different sectors during 12 years. She has already actively participated and officially represented Afghanistan in many countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, USA, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Swiss, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. These representation includes but not limited to the trainings, workshops, international events and committees like CSW and CEDAW commissions.

Spozhmai completed her high school education at Zarghoneh High School. She successfully completed the mathematics department of this university Faculty since in 1984. From 2018 – 2019, she successfully completed the Master’s program in Gender and Women’s Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Kabul University.

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Trinidad Furche Rosse

2022 Fellow, Innovation Leader

Trinidad Furche Rosse is an Innovation Leader in the Municipality of Ñuñoa. Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, from 2010 until 2017 she was a volunteer in a foundation focused on overcoming poverty and building decent housing, called “Techo-Chile”. There she worked with communities developing empowerment in people to face the challenges of today’s society, such as education, work or health. In 2014, she started studying industrial design as a way to have a direct impact on people’s lives and their relationship with space, such as classrooms, houses or public transport.

Her sense for public service led her to work in the State as a new alternative to bring governments closer to citizens in a friendly and clear way, allowing a transformation in the State. In 2018, she started working in municipalities leading areas of public innovation seeking to train public functionaries to improve their work management, professional development and the services they deliver to the community. Since 2021 she has also been studying for a master’s degree in government at the University of Buenos Aires.


Tsion Engdaye Mekonnen

2022 Fellow, Head of Youth Affairs

Tsion Engdaye is the Youth Affairs Department Head and National Executive committee member of the major opposition political party in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema).

Tsion joined Ezema at the age of 22, believing that her participation in politics would inspire young people like her, to stand up for their rights and say no to injustices. Tsion is a strong advocate for women, youth, and people with disabilities’ participation, meaningful engagement, representation, and empowerment. She is also working as a Project Manager for a feminist movement entitled: Setaweet. Tsion served as an Intern and paralegal at the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, FDRE Council of Constitutional Inquiry, and Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association Free legal aid service.

Tsion obtained her LL.B Degree from Addis Ababa University. During her undergraduate career, Tsion was a coordinator and a member of “The Yellow Movement”, a student led initiative advocating for gender equality and the eradication of gender-based violence. Her work in The Yellow Movement made her realize that legal, political and policy reforms would significantly change Ethiopian women’s lives for many years to come. Tsion strongly believes that adequate representation of women, youth, and people with disabilities serving in political office is key for alike communities to be seen and heard throughout their countries.

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