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 20 years of leadership development work conducted by Vital Voices, the customized fellowship curriculum includes 10 months of 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.
*Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in-person trainings are subject to health and travel restrictions
We are currently accepting applications for the 2022 cohort of VVEngage.
The 2022 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 is a 10-month commitment that includes 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 13, 2022.
For more information, please contact the Vital Voices Political & Civic Engagement team at VVEngage@VitalVoices.org.
Meet The 2020-2021 Fellows
2021 Fellow, Executive Director, The Arab Institute for Women
Lina AbiRafeh is a global women’s rights expert with decades of experience worldwide. For the last six years, she has served as the Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, an academic/activist institute covering the 22 Arab states. The Institute was established in 1973 as the first women’s institute in the Arab region – and one of the first globally.
Lina spent over 20 years in development and humanitarian contexts in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, and others. Her specific expertise is in gender-based violence prevention and response, summarized by her TEDx talk, Women Deliver PowerTalk, keynote address for Swedish International Development Agency annual meeting, amongst others.
Lina completed her doctoral work from the London School of Economics and published “Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention” based on her research. She speaks and publishes frequently on a range of gender issues, most recently on the need for a feminist response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Arab women and girls. She believes women’s leadership is the strongest vehicle for peace and sustainable development. Her piece I Hate International Women’s Day has resonated with women’s rights activists worldwide.
Lina is among the Gender Equality Top 100 worldwide in 2018 and 2019. She was awarded a Vital Voices fellowship for 2021 for outstanding women leaders and was recognized by the Women’s Media Center as one of their Progressive Women’s Voices for 2021 and is featured in their database of experts.
Samah Bushra Ahmed
2021 Fellow, Founder and Director, Refugee Access (UK & International) & Access (Sudan)
Samah Bushra Ahmed is the founder and CEO of Refugee Access, a non-profit organization in UK, and its sister organization, Access, in Sudan. Samah is a social worker and specializes in forced migration, homelessness, mental health, children, and social policy. She has involved in politics since secondary school in Sudan and served in number of public social and political positions at university. She was a member of the Green Party of England and Wales.
Samah has worked in Sudan, Greece, and the UK. She is Amnesty International Speaker educating young people in UK about human rights. She is mentoring young women in Sudan at AlSudaniya Mentoring. She was an educator at African Leadership Academy in South Africa. Samah serves as elected head of family affairs and capacity building for the Sudanese Community and Information Centre in London. She was a speaker at the House of Lords Chamber Debate 2016.
Samah graduated with BSc. Honours in Political Science from University of Khartoum and MSc. Development Studies from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She is currently studying social policy at London School of Economics and Political science (LSE). She is an alumna of Chevening Scholarship for global leaders.
2021 Fellow, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh Parliament
Rumana Ali is a Member of the Bangladesh Parliament. She is a member of the Bangladesh Awami League party. In parliament, she is working to enhance financial and social support for rural people and taking actions for the betterment of the environment. Rumana is a member of the Dhaka Bar Association. She is also Chairman of Abdul Awal Degree College, Bormi Degree College, and Chairman of the Human and Children Rights Development Society.
2021 Fellow, General Director, Kayan Feminist Organization
Rafah Anabtawi is the General Director of Kayan Feminist Organization in Haifa, which works to advance Palestinian women’s status and end gender-based discrimination. Rafah has been a social and feminist activist for over 20 years. Rafah began her career at Kayan as the Community Organizing Coordinator in 2006 and has now been its director for over seven years. As the director of Kayan, Rafah spearheads a grassroots approach to social change by consolidating a national Arab Palestinian feminist movement that promotes and defends women’s rights and ensures women’s integration into all aspects of the public sphere. Rafah has participated in several prestigious leadership programs, including the Fellowship Programme of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). She holds a BA in Social Work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MA in Social Work from the University of Haifa.
2021 Fellow, Member of Legislative Assembly, Green Party of Northern Ireland
Clare Bailey is the Leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland and was first elected as a Member to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016. She is the current chair of the NIA Women’s Caucus, Chair of the All-Party Group on Arts and served as Vice Chair to the APG on UNSCR 1325 as well as Co-Chair to the APG on Domestic & Sexual Violence.
Upon taking her seat, Clare was the first member of the legislative assembly in Northern Ireland to designate as Feminist. She is an ardent Women’s Rights campaigner and continues to fight for abortion rights. Before being elected, she worked for a charity helping victims and survivors of sexual & domestic violence.
As a lone parent, she experienced the economic and social barriers faced by many marginalised women and spent time living in a homeless hostel with her children. In 1981 she was one of the first 28 children to attend NI’s first integrated school where she remains a proud alumni. Returning to education as a mature student, she graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Politics major and Culture & Media Studies minor degree in 2009. During her time at University, she was involved in student politics and elected as Mature Student s Officer.
2021 Fellow, Vice Mayor, City of Beverly Hills
Lili Bosse was elected to the Beverly Hills City Council in 2011. She previously served as Mayor in 2014 and 2017 and is currently serving as Vice Mayor. Lili has served the community for over 25 years as Chair and member of the Planning Commission, Traffic and Parking Commission and Beverly Hills Education Foundation.
Lili uses her effective approachable style of leadership. Her successful ‘Walk with the Mayor’ program has brought national attention and her ‚ÄòHealthy City’ program is at the forefront with the ‚ÄòJust in Case’ program to ensure the community is prepared for any emergency. Her goal has always been to ensure values of inclusion and diversity. Lili is the only daughter of holocaust survivors and grew up with a passion for creating change. Her ‚ÄòNever Give Up’ motto was instilled in her by her mother, an Auschwitz survivor. Lili is centering her efforts to help the community through challenges of post-pandemic rebuilding as well as focusing on Visionary Women, a nonprofit organization she co-founded, which unites women leaders in support of causes that advocate for women and girls globally.
2021 Fellow, Deputy Manager of Environmental Strategy and Climate Change, Municipality of Lima
Pamela Bravo is currently the Deputy Manager of Environmental Strategy and Climate Change of the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, where she leads the development of climate instruments in the city, management of ecosystems, environmental governance, and eco-efficiency, among others. Pamela has experience in both the public and private sectors. She previously worked as coordinator of environmental quality and Deputy Manager of Environmental Development of the Municipality of Miraflores (Lima, Peru).
Pamela studied environmental engineering by the National University Federico Villarreal and earned a masters in High Management. She also earned a masters in Management and Environmental Auditing from the Universidad Científica del Sur.
Hina Parvez Butt
2021 Fellow, Member of the Provincial Assembly, Provincial Assembly Punjab
Hina Parvez Butt is a Member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly. She is a celebrated Pakistani politician and one of the youngest women to enter the Punjab Assembly.
Now in her second year in office, significant legislation includes “The Punjab Prohibition of Hate Speech,” “The Domestic Workers Employment Right Bill 2014,” “The Punjab Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill 2017,” “Child Marriage Prohibition Bill 2013,” “PHome Based Workers Bill 2016,” and “Domestic Workers Employment Rights Bill 2016.”
Her commitment and passion have specifically driven legislation for human rights, the most debated being legislation against forced conversions. She has rendered her services as the General Secretary of First Women Parliamentary Caucus of Punjab and is currently the Women Health Representative.
Hina holds a postgraduate degree from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) winning twice the Dean’s Honor List Awards and a Masters in International Relations from Middlesex University. She was also selected for the Harvard Kennedy School Education Module. She is one of the most recognized Young Global Leaders and has represented nationally at the World Economic Forum Summits. Hina also received certification from Oxford University and the Pakistan at American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) in the United States.
2021 Fellow, Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha, India Parliament
Priyanka Chaturvedi is Rajya Sabha MP from Shiv Sena, Maharashtra. She is also Deputy Leader and National Spokesperson of Shiv Sena. She is Member of Parliament Standing Committee of Commerce and Member of Consultative Committee on External Affairs. She is a regular on television channels debating on various issues on Indian politics, women empowerment, child rights, education and health.
Priyanka began her political journey as an Assembly Delegate of the Indian Youth Congress in 2009. With no political background she became a part of Youth Congress and closely worked with them during her tenure. She went on to become a District General Secretary IYC. She was elevated to the role of National Media Panelist after her active involvement for the party on social media platforms and TV debates in 2013. She was then elevated to the position of National Spokesperson in July 2015.
Priyanka was appointed Communication Department Convenor. She was a part of ISB’s 10000 Women programme, a scholarship programme by Goldman Sachs for women entrepreneurs. Priyanka contributes her opinion columns in various newspapers and online sites. She is currently on the advisory board of Femme First Foundation, a woman advocacy group working to bring more women participation in leadership roles and also Kautilya School of Public Policy, based in Hyderabad.
2021 Fellow, Former Special Envoy on Youth, African Union
Aya Chebbi is a multi award-winning Pan-African feminist. She rose to prominence as a voice for democracy and shot to global fame as a political blogger during 2010/2011 Tunisia’s Revolution. She also served as the first ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet.
Over the span of the past decade, Aya has single handedly transformed the youth participation space across Africa and created various online and offline platforms including Afrika Youth Movement, one of Africa’s largest youth-led movements and Afresist, a think tank documenting youth work in Africa. She served at Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Generation Unlimited Board, Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the Council of the Africa Public Health Foundation among others.
Aya is graduate of University of Tunis El Manar with Bachelor in International Relations, Fulbright scholar at Georgia Southern University and Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholar for her Masters in African Politics at SOAS, University of London. She received the 2019 Gates Foundation Campaign Award and was named in Forbes’ Africa’s 50 Most Powerful Women and New African Magazine List of 100 Most Influential Africans.
2021 Fellow, Member of Parliament, Parliament of Zimbabwe
Precious Chinhamo is a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Zimbabwe. She is a member of the committees on health and childcare, justice and legal affairs, and information communication technology. Precious also recently joined the pharmaceutical parliamentary caucus. She is also part of the African parliamentarians’ network against corruption subcommittee, and the child rights steering committee. Precious is the Provincial Secretary for Health in the women’s league for Mashonaland West. She comes from a health background having previously worked as a registered nurse and a rehabilitation technician.
Martha Lidia Oxi Chuy
2021 Fellow, Special Projects Director, MAIA Organization
Martha Lidia Oxi Chuy is a member of the MAIA Leadership Team, the only organization in Guatemala that is designed and led by indigenous women that serves Maya communities. As Director of Special Projects, she designs and implements culturally-attuned, high-impact projects focusing on the education and empowerment of girls.
Her passions are education, sustainability and gender equality. In 2020, in response to COVID-19, she led the design and implementation of family organic gardens. This project helped propel MAIA as the National 2020 winner of Energy Globe Award. She is the MAIA team-lead of the Amplify her Voice project, winner of the SOLVEMIT 2020 Global Challenges. She has represented MAIA in conversations with Zayed Sustainability Prize, Rotary, USAC, XIV Women’s Leadership and the Honnold Foundation.
Lidia is the first Maya Kaqchikel woman to teach Chinese language at public and private institutions in Guatemala and worked for a program funded by the Embassy of Taiwan. In 2005, she received an Associate’s degree in Natural Resources Management at FVTC, Wisconsin, USA and in 2014, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Public/Private Policies of Development at the University of Galileo, Guatemala.
2021 Fellow, Mayor, City of Norman
Breea Clark serves as the Mayor of Norman, the 3rd largest city in the state of Oklahoma. First elected to the Norman City Council to represent Ward 6 in 2016, she was elected in 2019 as Norman’s 60th mayor and first millennial mayor. She currently serves as Vice President of the Mayors’ Council of the Oklahoma Municipal League and on the Board of Directors of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, and she represented her city in the 4th class of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership initiative. Prior to seeking elected office, she served on the Norman Tree Board, Library Board, and the Norman Forward Sales Tax Citizens Financial Oversight Board.
Breea graduated with her B.A. in Political Science from Wichita State University in 2005 and then received her J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 2008. In addition to her role with the City of Norman, she serves as the Director of the JCPenney Leadership Center in the Michael F. Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma.
“If you are passionate about a cause do not be afraid to speak up and use whatever skill or resource you have to do something about it. I made a choice to consciously work on the issue of sexual violence. Now I have a bold goal: to end violence against women in my lifetime. I aim to reach 1 million youth by 2030. I want to empower them to break the cycle of violence and be the agents of change.”
Elsa D’Silva sees incredible power in information. She co-founded Safecity, a platform that crowdsources and maps sexual violence and harassment in India. She believes that making abuse visible will disrupt the culture of silence and impunity around sexual violence.
Since Safecity launched, it’s become the largest crowdmap on sexual abuse in India. Elsa has even collaborated with fellow Vital Voices network members to bring Safecity to Nepal, Cameroon and Kenya – making it the largest crowdmap in those countries too. She aims to reach 1 million young people with Safecity trainings about sexual violence – empowering youth to break the cycle and end gender-based violence.
2021 Fellow, Founder, Imani, Hope & Love Foundation
Imani Duncan-Price is a former Government Senator, Co-Executive Director of Jamaica’s leading think tank, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), and Group Strategy Officer for the JMMB Group – a leading Caribbean financial services group. With her passion for social innovation and impact, Imani recently established the ‚ÄòImani, Grace and Love’ Foundation focusing on Women’s Economic Empowerment, Changing a Generation and Affordable Dignified Housing.
Previously, Imani served as Chief of Staff in the ‚ÄòOffice of the Leader of the Opposition’ in Jamaica where she supported then Leader of the Opposition and People’s National Party President, Dr. Phillips, in policy and political strategy formulation. As an international management consultant, she focused on cluster competitiveness, gender and social intervention. Imani also led extensive research and co-authored the case study, “Arrested Development: The Political Origins and Social Foundations of Common Violence in Jamaica”, published in 2008, Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper No. 46.
After her year as Miss Jamaica World 1995, Imani earned a BA from Wesleyan University and Masters in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School. Named a Young Global Leader 2015 and Eisenhower Fellow 2018, Imani is married to Stephen and mother of three young children, Aidan, Marley and Selah.
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder, ElectHER
Abosede George-Ogan is the Co-founder of ElectHER – an end-to-end women’s political advancement organisation addressing the under-representation of women in elective office in Nigeria. ElectHER utilizes behavioral change communication, skills development, and funding mobilization, with a goal to engage, encourage, equip, and enable women to Decide, Run and Win elections.
Abosede is a tri-sector leader with over 17 years’ experience working across the non-profit, private, and public sectors as a development professional. She began her career with ActionAid International and coordinated Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability for Keystone Bank, FirstBank and Samsung Electronics West Africa, respectively.
Until she co-founded ElectHER, she was part of a team creating jobs in Africa’s largest City, Lagos in the role of Director Strategy, Funding and Stakeholder Management at Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
Named Woman of the Year 2020 for her work in Women’s Political Participation by herNetwork and one of Nigeria’s 100 Most Inspirational Women by Leading Ladies Africa in 2019, she Chairs the Gender sub-committee of the Crosscutting Technical Working Group of the Nigeria Medium Term National Development Plan Team and is a Mid-Career Master in Public Administration (MPA) Mason Fellow candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School.
2021 Fellow, Councilor, Municipal Government of Miguel Hidalgo
Gabriela González is currently a Councilor in the Mayor’s Office of Miguel Hidalgo in Mexico City. She chairs the citizen security commission and is secretary of the Gender Equality Commission, where she works to monitor public policies in favor of security and protection for women on behalf of the Mayor’s Office.
Previously, Gabriela was the National Director of Political Promotion of Women for her party, where she trained all women who aspired to occupy a popularly elected position. In addition, she published the first protocol for attention to political gender violence from the country. She also served as the Director of Social Policies in the Ministry of Social Development, where her main function was to install and operate more than 10,000 children’s homes that served more than one million working women. The program was named the best gender program by the UN. Gabriela has been a local and federal legislator, where she worked since on issues of education, childhood, and women, with the purpose of establishing a better legal framework for the protection of the most vulnerable.
2021 Fellow, Executive Director and Founder, Nazra for Feminist Studies
Mozn Hassan is an Egyptian feminist activist and founder of ‘Nazra for Feminist Studies’.
In her work through Nazra, Mozn has been involved in a range of different activities and campaigns to address gender-based inequalities and forms of injustices while also strengthening feminist mobilization and women’s participation in politics.Nazra has played a particularly important role in documenting human rights abuses and sexual violence during and after the revolution of 2011, and has been supporting and advocating for the survivors of sexual assault.
Mozn has received many awards, amongst them the Global Fund for Women‘s inaugural Charlotte Bunch Human Rights Award in 2013. Mozn and Nazra were jointly awarded one of the Right Livelihood Awards, often called the “Alternative Nobel Peace Prize”, in 2016 “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination.” In 2009, Mozn received the Hrant Dink Award for peace, rights and equality.
On March 2021, Mozn founded “Doria Feminist Fund” MENA feminist fund, a first MENA fund for new feminist groups from the region. Mozn dedicated RLA to establish the fund.
2021 Fellow, Executive Director, Fundación Multitudes and Chair, Civil Society Pillar of the Community of Democracies
Paulina Ibarra is the Executive Director of the Multitudes Foundation in Chile and the first elected Chair of the Civil Society Pillar of the Community of Democracies. She has global experience in the areas of transparency, citizen participation and accountability and has worked in government, private sector and international organizations. In Washington, Paulina worked with the Open Government Partnership during the administration of President Obama and advised the World Bank on issues of education and digital activism. She was the first delegate of Citizen Participation for the Ministry General Secretariat of the Government of Chile and she contributed to the development of communication policies of the National Consumer Service. She is currently a member of four Advisory Councils of Ministries and Services, including the Council for Transparency.
Paulina holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in politics from Marymount University, and an master’s degree in Communication from Georgetown University (USA).
Vera Yaona Kamtukule
2021 Fellow, Deputy Minister of Labour, Malawi Government
Vera Kamtukule is a life and leadership coach; a writer and a key note and motivational speaker who has dedicated her life to the development of people especially women and girls of all ages across the world. She achieves this by employing unequivocally non-conventional methods which inspire people to draw motivation from deep within themselves in their quest to achieve both large and small goals they never imagined were possible. Vera is the a former Chief Executive Officer for Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), which is a national network which was established to inspire, support and coordinate mutually beneficial civic links between Malawi and Scotland. Even though she is not a Member of Parliament yet, Vera is now the Deputy Minister of Labour having been appointed onto the position by President Dr Lazarus Chakwera on 8th July 2020; she is the youngest female member of the cabinet.
Vera is a prolific writer and published author, an accomplished development planner in Malawi with more than 14 years’ experience in senior programme management obtained from working with central and local government, local and international NGOs, and public and private sector organizations in Africa and Europe. Vera is also the founder of Patch Malawi, a youth centered social enterprise company that was set up to balance and strengthen linkages among social, economic as well as psychological needs of people in Malawi. Vera has experience in designing and implementing development projects in both rural and urban settings across Malawi. She has skills in policy analysis, budgeting and strategic planning, and has substantial experience in informal settlements regularization. One of Vera’s greatest skills is fast writing, document editing and summarizing bulky documents into concise and precise versions of the original without missing critical facts.
Vera has published the following books: ‘The Supply and Demand of Housing in Malawi’, ‘Made to Bloom’, ‘The Professional Woman’, ‘The Absalomic Loss’, ‘It’s Your Choice to Make’, ‘29 Things That Destroy ‘Good’ Men’, ‘41 Things That Destroy ‘Good’ Women’ and she Co-authored ‘More Than A Pastor’s Wife’ with Reverend Comfort Adebayo. Vera won the African Authors Award in July 2020 for her book, ‘Made to Bloom’ in the Women Empowerment category. In December 2020, Vera also received an African Achievers Award for her social advocacy role in Malawi. 46% of girls under 18 in Malawi get married and drop out of school, thus putting enormous pressure on government to provide basic social services. To respond to this social ill, Vera embarked on a project called, “One Girl At A Time” in November 2019. Through the project, Vera intends to distribute her award-winning book “Made to Bloom” to every public secondary schools going girl across Malawi. The main objective of the project is to inspire girls to stay in school and make something out of their lives and also to nurture a reading and writing culture in them. Over 10,000 books have since been distributed for free. As an advocate of women’s rights and girl’s education, Vera believes that the opportunities that can be leveraged from girl’s education are enormous and incalculable.
Vera has a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Management obtained from the University of Derby, UK, a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Humanities) from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, a Professional Diploma in Marketing (CIM, UK) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularization obtained from Erasmus University in The Netherlands. Vera sits on several Boards as a Director. Vera is a member of the Presbyterian Church of Malawi Ministries (PCM) and is married to Edson Kamtukule with whom she has two daughters.
2021 Fellow, Editor-in-Chief, 24 Channel
Olha Konsevych is an editor, researcher and media expert. As a media manager, Olha cooperates with key Ukrainian media outlets. For the past ten year she has run different projects on explanatory and digital journalism. Moreover, Olha is deeply engaged in civil society development. She helps NGOs from Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Russia to lead projects related to the promotion of EU values and media literacy (Eurasia Foundation, Romanian NGO Platform – FOND, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union).
In 2019, Olha became a part of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and highly innovative transatlantic network of young civil society leaders (TILN). It helped her to raise the issue of identity and protection of stateless people, as well as internally displaced persons in conflict affected areas in Ukraine. In 2021, she started a study on Roma communities in Ukraine affected by the COVID-19 (as a part for the project for University of Gothenburg in Sweden and Georgian Institute of Public Affairs).
Olha earned a Doctorate Degree in Communication Studies from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 2017, with a special focus on Ukraine-EU relations, democratic transitions and sustainability of post-Soviet societies.
2021 Fellow, Councilwoman, Colina Municipality
Alejandra has served since 2016 as a Councilman for the Municipality of Colina in the northern part of Santiago de Chile. She is a journalist and began her public service helping women entrepreneurs to sell their products online. The focus of her work has been to improve the living conditions of her sector, especially in security issues due to violence against women. As Councilwoman, she chairs the Environment Commission, Security and Transportation in the Municipality Council.
Alejandra is part of the EVOPOLI political party where she is the National Chief of Councilman.
Her main work has been with women, empowering them and improving their living conditions, especially in rural areas where they have little access to health centers, clean water and decent housing conditions.
2021 Fellow, Vice Chairwoman, Regional Democratic Council
Nageshwari Kamal Lochanprasad is the elected Vice Chairwoman of the Regional Democratic Council. She is also a single parent, an entrepreneur and survivor of sexual and domestic violence. Kamal grew up in a Hindu family with non-political affiliations and interest. She began her career as a successful small business owner and entered politics after a speech she gave demanding change in her hometown Bartica and country. Kamal, like many other Guyanese, had grown weary after living through over 2 decades witnessing a complete breakdown of law and order, mass atrocities of which close to a dozen fellow Barticians lost their lives in a massacre that left the then village, deeply traumatized. Kamal campaigned with the then opposition coalition APNU/AFC party and they were victorious. She was then appointed to serve as Vice Chairwoman on the Interim Management Committee of the Bartica Neighborhood Democratic Council. In March 2016, after decades, local government elections were held in which she was elected to serve as the first Deputy Mayor of the new township of Bartica
Since then, Kamal has served as Regional Representative for the Office of the Prime Minister, Vice Chairperson of the Interim Management Committee, Vice Chairwoman of the Bartica Town Council Finance Committee, Director on the Board of Directors of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and Director on the BoD’s of National Communications Network NCN- with direct responsibility for Regional Radio and Chairwoman of The Market Committee of the Bartica Town Council. Currently she is serving as the Regional Vice Chairwoman of the Cuyuni/Mazaruni Region Seven, Member of The Regional Health Emergency Committee, Region Seven, and Chairwoman on the Gender Affairs Committee in Bartica and a Justice of Peace. Kamal has also started an initiative called ” Take a Stand” with the support of several Lawyers that provides pro bono legal aid advice and representation to women in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni Region who are victims of gender-based violence and is currently working on a number of other initiatives that will raise awareness on women’s health, domestic violence, and seminars to empower women and girls.
2021 Fellow, Director, Femmes for Freedom
Shirin Musa is the Director of the organization Femmes for Freedom. She coined, defined, and introduced the concept of marital captivity – a situation in which women are unable to terminate their religious marriage – in Dutch society and politics. She successfully campaigned for an expanded definition of forced marriage. Due to this, denying women the right to a religious divorce was recognized by Dutch law; it became a criminal act in the Dutch Penal Code which led to an important legislative change in the Civil Code. Shirin was also the driving force behind the creation of the Dutch Forced Marriage Unit, improvement of the women’s shelters, better assistance to victims of genital mutilation, and revising measures related to hymen checks and operations.
Shirin is active on several fronts (grassroots, legal, political, scientific and media) in order to initiate fundamental and systemic changes both domestically and internationally. She regularly writes opinion pieces in leading Dutch newspapers. Shirin’s work is innovative and successful and she therefore received several Dutch prizes and nominations. The Dutch feminist monthly magazine Opzij included her in the list of 100 most influential women in the Netherlands. The impact of her work and campaigns were also highlighted in international media such as The Economist, BBC, Haaretz, Times for Israel, RTBF, and Causeur.
Wai Wai Nu
2021 Fellow, Executive Director, Women's Peace Network
Wai Wai Nu is a former political prisoner and the founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Peace Network in Burma. She spent seven years as a political prisoner in Burma. Since her release from prison in 2012, Wai Wai has dedicated herself to working for democracy and human rights, particularly on behalf of marginalized women and members of her ethnic group, the Rohingya. Through the Women’s Peace Network, Wai Wai works to build peace and mutual understanding between Burma’s ethnic communities and to empower and advocate for the rights of marginalized women throughout Burma, and particularly in Rakhine State. Her work also aims to reduce discrimination and hatred among Buddhist and Muslim communities and to improve the human rights of the Rohingya people through documentation, convenings, and policy advocacy among key leaders in Burma and high-level international fora.
To engage youth in the peacebuilding process, Wai Wai founded the Yangon Youth Center‚Äîa space where young people from diverse backgrounds can come together to learn, share, and explore their ideas and promote leadership in social, political, and peacebuilding policymaking. Wai Wai also organized the My Friend Campaign with youth from different communities to promote tolerance and to reduce discrimination among diverse groups. Through her work, she has been recognized as a Champion of Prevention by the United Nation’s Office of the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect. In 2014, Wai Wai Co-Founded Justice for Women in Yangon, a legal and advocacy organization that works with victims of gender-based violence and provides pro bono legal consultation.
Wai Wai is the recipient of numerous awards including the N-Peace Awards (2014), Democracy Courage Tributes (2015), World Movement for Democracy (2015), the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award (2018), and Impact Hero (2019). She was named among “100 Top Women,” BBC (2014); among 100 inspiring women, Salt Magazine (2017); among 100 World Thinkers, Foreign Policy Magazine (2015); Next Generation Leader, Time Magazine (2017); and among Women of the Year, Financial Times (2017).
Wai Wai received her bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Yangon in Burma and her master’s degree in law from the University of Berkeley. She previously served as a visiting scholar with the Human Rights Center at the University of Berkeley, the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women, and Columbia University. Wai Wai was also a Draper Hills Summer Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.
2021 Fellow, President, South Sudan Women's Empowerment Network
Lilian Riziq, a social justice activist, is one of the prominent leaders in South Sudan’s women’s movement. She is the founder of a leading women organization, the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network, which advocates for women’s rights and inclusion in all decision-making levels. A former senior government official in South Sudan, Lilian served as a minister of Agriculture from 2012 to 2013 and the state minister of Finance from 2013 to 2015 in Western Bahr El Ghazal State. She was also a member of several national commissions, such as the Constitution Review Commission, as well as one of the few women in the leadership of the National Dialogue Steering Committee.
Lilian is involved in several initiatives, including mainstreaming gender in peacebuilding and strengthening local women peacemakers’ capacity in South Sudan working with various key international donors, academic institutions, and civil society organizations in raising awareness of vital national, regional, and international instruments on women’s rights. She organized a silent march with hundreds of women across the country, that contributed to the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by the national parliament in September 2014.
Lilian is an alum of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, 2019 women peacemakers. Through this fellowship, she contributed to a multi-year research document focused on building more equitable funding partnerships between local women peacebuilders and international peace funders. Lilian holds a master’s degree in International Development from American University in Washington DC, and a post-graduate certificate on Gender Leadership and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
2021 Fellow, New Mexico State Representative, New Mexico State Legislature
Angelica Rubio is a Representative in the New Mexico State Legislature. She was born and raised in rural southeastern New Mexico and is the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants. Angelica grew up with a deep working knowledge of the power found in numbers, as well as a flair for making her case.
In 2016, Angelica won a seat in the New Mexico State Legislature, where she now serves–focusing on policy that centers disproportionately impacted communities by extractive industries and working towards a more sustainable economy for New Mexico. Angelica is also a champion for equitable outdoor recreation that not only benefits younger New Mexicans but also a new generation of stewards of our lands. Since 2018, Angelica has ridden her bicycle to the State Capitol, to raise awareness on the disconnect between the state capitol and the rest of the state. When Angelica is not organizing and working on issues of justice, you can find her at home hanging with her dog, Yoko, or riding her bike along the dry ditch banks of the desert in Do√±a Ana County and beyond.
2021 Fellow, Deputy, House of Deputies of the Province of Buenos Aires
Noelia Ruiz serves as a Deputy in the House of Deputies in the Province of Buenos Aires. She strongly believes that women move the world, transforming reality with passion and empathy, setting equality as the goal. In Argentina a woman is killed by a man every 23 hours, which is why Noelia boosted the Declaration of the Provincial Emergency in Violence against Women and Family Violence in 2020. From her deputy bench in the province legislature, Noelia is strongly committed to working for law enforcement in order to end violence against women. Noelia is also committed to putting children and teenagers in the political agenda. She is currently taking a specialization in childhood and teens public policies.
Previously, she worked as chief of staff at the head of cabinet ministry during Maria Eugenia Vidal¬¥s term. From 2019-2020 she was President of La Generación, a political group of sub-40 leaders in Argentina. Noelia has a degree in International Relations and a Mg. in Governance and Public Policies.
2021 Fellow, Founder & Chair, United Voices 4 Peace
Veronica Sabbag is the Founder and Chair of United Voices 4 Peace. She is also a global citizen with a multicultural background, a life-long international experience and a passion for music. She served the European Union in different positions for over 20 years, including in the EU Mission to the United Nations in New York forging her experience in conflict management, defense and security. In this context, she has dealt with some of the most challenging global conflicts.
Understanding the need to resolve today’s major challenges beyond traditional diplomatic tools, she decided to found the NGO “United Voices 4 Peace” fostering a Universal Culture of Peace through Music and the Arts. With this cultural diplomacy initiative promoting diverse forms of inter-cultural exchanges, Veronica has facilitated the realization of collaborative artistic projects advocating for diversity and inclusion. Some of her most successful projects are: “Women professionals in the music industry” empowering women in the music sector and “Together in Solidarity” raising awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the integration of refugees.
Veronica holds a Degree in Law from the University of La Sorbonne a Master’s Degree in European Studies from l’Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Certificate on Cultural Diplomacy from the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
2021 Fellow, Senator, Senate of Romania
Iulia Scântei is a jurist and a Senator of the Romanian Parliament, where she was elected for a second mandate last December. Formerly Vice-president of the Senate during her first term, she is currently the President of the Legal Committee as well as a member of the Committee for Defense, Public Order and National Security.
Iulia is committed to promoting equal chances for Romanian women in politics and in the justice system and to improving legislation for better legal protection of children and women. A culture for justice among young people is one of her political aims. Her past governmental career includes official positions and dignities such as: Counsellor of the Prime Minister on Antifraud Fight in the field of European Funds, Counsellor to the Minister of Justice, and General Secretary of the Ministry of Justice.
Iulia is a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the “Al. I Cuza” University of Iasi, she holds a Master’s degree in International Relations, and a Postgraduate degree in Security and National Defense. Having more than 20 years of legal experience, she serves also as a notary public.
2021 Fellow, CEO, WEPOWER
Mazal Shaul is the Executive Director of WePower -an organization for the Advancement of Women’s Leadership in Public and political arena. Mazal is an Independent Advisor and consultant for the Development of Personal and Community Leadership.
Throughout the years, Mazal served as a Council Member and as the local Commissioner for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality in Azor. Mazal also founded the branch of the International “Circle Ladies” for local volunteering women and introduced the Women Empowerment Program to her town. Mazal also served for 14 years as the Chair of Azor’s Emmanuel Regional Community Center and the Chairperson of its Parents Committee.
In 2018, Mazal ran for mayoral position in her hometown and won 35% of public support and now serves as council member for the 3rd term in her own independent local party “T’zaad Gadol”. Currently, Mazal runs a women’s party for the national elections in Israel named “Voice of Women”.
Mazal holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Tel Aviv University and for 20 years served in key positions in Management of Research and Development projects in major companies such as Hadassah Ein Kerem’s Cyclotron Unit, Bioline and Teva.
Maya A. Tamayo
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder and Program Manager, Angat Bayi
Maya Tamayo is co-founder and program manager of Angat Bayi [Uplift Women], a groundbreaking program in the Philippines aimed at promoting women’s entry into politics. It gathers and develops elected women leaders to advance a holistic social development agenda, and engages young women in building a broader constituency for women’s issues in the political sphere. Since 2018, Angat Bayi has capacitated women leaders from 14 cities, 16 municipalities, and 6 provinces.
Maya also co-founded the Feminist Legal Network, a gathering of legal professionals and advocates working for more gender responsive, inclusive, and just practices within the Philippine justice system and legal community.
Aside from being a passionate advocate for women’s rights and the arts, Maya is also a proficient feminist researcher and trainer. She is an awardee of the Connections Through Culture – Arts and Creative Economy Research Grant by the British Council in the UK and East Asia, and was selected as part of the first cohort of the Women Together for a Better Normal program by Ashoka and the S&P Global Foundation in 2020. When she’s not developing innovative projects, she dances, travels, plays boardgames with her tribe, and enjoys coffee (or wine) with her coven.
2021 Fellow, Member of Parliament, Hungarian National Assembly
√Ågnes Vadai is a Member of Parliament in the Hungarian National Assembly. In Parliament she is the Vice-Chair of the Defense and Law Enforcement committee. She is also Vice President of the Democratic Coalition Party and General Deputy Head of the Democratic Coalition Parliamentary Group. Additionally, Agnes is chairwoman of the Interparliamentary Union IHL Committee. She was the deputy defense minister of Hungary between 2007 and 2010. She has been named an honorary professor of Miklós Zrínyi National Defense University and received the Miklós Radnóti Anti-Racist Award.
2021 Fellow, Advisor, Cabinet of the Mayor of Madrid
Elisa Vigil is a lawyer specialized in commercial and women’s law. She is currently an advisor in the Cabinet of the Mayor of Madrid. She began her career as a consultant at the age of 22 in the Social Services Cabinet of the Madrid City Council in the Popular Party Group. Furthermore, she is a political activist who presides over the New Generations of the Popular Party in a District of Madrid.
Elisa’s political vocation comes from a young age, believing that through politics the world around us can be changed. She is co-founder of the Libyan Women NGO, through which they promote training courses, empowerment, business, psychological support, creation of the pioneering project of a Shelter for battered women and victims of war, as well as programs of self-employment with microcredits. They have more than 4,500 affiliates in Libya and want to continue working to reach more women and young people so they can achieve their dreams.
Nekpen Osuan Wilson
2021 Fellow, Co-Founder and CEO, WomenWerk
Nekpen Osuan Wilson is the CEO & Co-Founder of @WomenWerk, a women’s empowerment non-profit reaching 5,500 women and girls annually in New York City. Nekpen serves as the United Nations Association’s Global Goals Ambassador for SDG5 and her work advocating for women and girls’ empowerment globally has led to brand engagements with SXSW, Forbes’ Women’s Council, Linkedin and Walker’s Legacy. She passionate about empowering women’s economic development and is business mentor and certified career coach with NYC Small Business Services, WIN Summit, and The Muse.
Nekpen is also a speaker and accomplished change agent. She has spoken at The White House, SXSW, and a number of leadership and business conferences. Nekpen’s recognitions include being names a 2020 Arena Fellow, a BlogHer 2018 Voice of the Year, the 2017 Baylor Young Alumna of the Year, a 2018 92Y Woman in Power Fellow, a 2018 Walkers Legacy Women in Leadership Honoree, and a 2017 Council of Urban Professionals Fellow. Nekpen serves on junior boards for Vital Voices, New Leaders Council, The DNC Young Professionals Committee and Women’s Leadership Forum, and the Council of Urban Professionals. She earned her Bachelor’s from Baylor University and her Master’s from Columbia University. Nekpen enjoys mentoring, running, travel, and trying new recipes in her spare time.
Fanti Frida Yanti
2021 Fellow, Human Development and Governance Researcher, Baubau Planning Board
Fanti Frida Yanti is a Human Development and Governance Research for the Baubau Planning Board. She is also Deputy of Research and Development at the Baubau Creative Forum. Previously, as Head of the Gender and Child Information System Division, Fanti initiated the Baubau Women and Children Protection Task Force as a service to provide legal assistance, counseling, psychological recovery and social rehabilitation for women and children victims of violence.
Fanti is passionate about research, believing it is crucial to know in more details the stories of every woman, recording them through data and information, including the violence against them. Fanti decided to become a public servant in the Baubau City Government in order to empower women, especially in education and the economy, through strategic government policies, including gender planning and budgeting. In 2011, she was promoted and trusted as the Local Government Gender Technical Equality Adviser for the BASICS Program and Local Government Community Advisor for the ACCESS Program. These two programs worked to ensure that the community’s rights in education and health are fulfilled where women and children are the priority.
In 2004, Fanti won a scholarship from the Ford Foundation IFP Program and studied Gender Analysis in International Development at University of East Anglia, England. In 2006, she worked as Local Gender Advisor of Oxfam GB Project in collaboration with the European Union. More recently, Fanti received an award from The Australia Awards Indonesia short courses in 2017 at Griffith University for Sustainable Tourism and at The University of Sydney to study DPO: Policy Reformation in 2020.