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Our Board of Directors

AWID’s board members are drawn from a diverse constituency of policy makers, academics, researchers, activists, funders, practitioners, and business people committed to gender equality, mostly from the global South. The board is elected by the AWID membership through an open election process.

Sarah Costa - Board President

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Sarah Costa is the Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission, a non-profit organization that advances women's rights by making grants that support and strengthen women's groups around the world. Before this, she was a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation managing programs on sexuality and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and women's rights in Latin America and the U.S. She also worked for many years in Brazil at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation where she taught and conducted research on gender and sexual and reproductive health. Active in the women's movement in Brazil, she was a member of the Advisory Committee to the National Council on Women's Rights, served on the boards of several women's NGOs and was a Technical Advisor on Women's Health to the State Government of Rio de Janeiro. She is currently on the board of the National Centers on Sexuality at San Francisco State University. She holds a Masters degree in Medical Demography from London University and a Ph.D. in Social Medicine from Oxford University.

 

Lydia Alpízar - Executive Director of AWID

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Lydia is a Costa Rican/Mexican feminist activist based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has been the Executive Director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)  since 2007, and was the manager of AWID’s Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? and Building Feminist Movements and Organizations Strategic Initiatives from 2003-2006. Lydia is a sociologist by training and co-founder and advisor of ELIGE - Youth Network for Reproductive and Sexual Rights (Mexico). She was member of the International Council for Human Rights Policy (2004-2011). She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Global Fund for Women and of the Central American Women’s Fund. She is also a graduate from the Human Rights Advocacy Training Program at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University in NYC. Lydia has extensive experience in advocacy and training on women's human rights, particularly in sexual rights and reproductive rights, financing for gender equality and women’s rights organizing, and violence against women.

 

To Tjoelker – Treasurer

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To Tjoelker is currently the Head of Cooperation at the Netherlands embassy in Bamako, Mali. Since starting in this role in 2007, she has promoted gender strategies in every grant of the Netherlands, and set up an emancipation Fund of 20 million US$ promoting women’s rights and GLBT rights. In the 1980s, she worked as a Gender Specialist for the Swiss Cooperation in Rwanda, and was a founder of Rwandese Network on women and Development (Réseau des Femmes pour le Développement Rural). From 1993-1998, she focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment in land tenure programs, decentralisation processes and sexual rights programs through her position as a Gender/decentralisation specialist at the Netherlands Embassy in Burkina Faso. In 1998, her work took her to Guatemala, where her focus shifted to promoting gender equality in environmental programs and worked with indigenous movements through the Embassy. She served as the Deputy Head of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands from 2002-2006. As chair of Gendernet, she introduced women’s rights and empowerment in discussions on the efficiency of Aid in civil society. To holds a Masters in Rural Development Sociology from the University of Wageningen and achieved a Specialisation in Institutional development from MDF in 1992.

 

Zeina Zaatari - Secretary

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Since her birth in South Lebanon, Zeina has breathed, lived in, engaged with, and wrote about Arab feminisms. From these roots, she sees herself as a bridge between various worlds and spaces (academic/activists, young/seasoned, South/West/East/North, Donor/Activist). Zeina acted as the Regional Director for MENA at the Global Fund for Women, 2004-2012. Currently, she is consulting with several international agencies on issues of gender and MENA and is lecturing at universities on gender, sexuality, and Islam, race and resistance, and transnational feminisms. She is a core group member of Arab Families Working Group, researching sexuality, family, and citizenship. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis in Feminist Theory from the University of California at Davis, conducting fieldwork with women’s groups and activists in South Lebanon. Her publications include, “Arab Feminist Awakening: Possibilities and Necessities,” in Arab Feminisms: A Critical Perspective (Arabic, 2012), “In the Belly of the Beast: Struggling for Non-Violent Belonging” in Arab and Arab American Feminisms (2011), “Women’s Leadership in the MENA,” In Gender and Women’s Leadership (2010), “Production of Knowledge: International Development Agencies” in EWIC (2010), and “The Culture of Motherhood: An Avenue for Women’s Civil Participation” in JMEWS (2006). She is a former Board member of Association of Middle East Women’s Studies and a member at large of Nasawiya.

 

Charlotte Bunch

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Charlotte Bunch, Founding Director and Senior Scholar of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University, has been an activist, writer and organizer in feminist and human rights movements for over four decades. A Distinguished Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies, Bunch was previously a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in DC and a founder of Washington DC Women’s Liberation, The Furies and Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. She has served on the Board of Directors of many organizations and is currently on the board of the Advisory Committee for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and the Global Civil Society Advisory Group for UN Women. She has written numerous influential essays, edited nine anthologies and authored Passionate Politics: Feminist Theory in Action and Demanding Accountability: The Global Campaign and Vienna Tribunal for Women's Human Rights. She is the recipient of several women’s and human rights awards including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the White House Eleanor Roosevelt Award, and being one of the 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Myrna Cunningham Kain

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Ms. Cunningham Kain is an Indigenous Miskita woman from the community of Waspam, located on the banks of the Wangki River in Nicaragua. After studying as a Primary Education Teacher, she went back to Waspam to work as a teacher. She left her community once again to study medicine and surgery at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua, becoming the first female Miskita doctor. In the 90’s, Ms. Cunningham Kain became the founding director of the newly established University of the Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua's Caribbean Coast, otherwise known as URACCAN. URACCAN was one of the first Latin American institutions of indigenous and intercultural higher education with a focus on gender, and has been an inspiration for many Indigenous peoples around the continent.  Ms. Cunningham Kain is President of the Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples (CADPI), which is an organization working in areas of intercultural communication, cultural revitalization, Indigenous women’s Rights and climate change and its impact on Indigenous communities. In September 2010, Ms. Cunningham Kain was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), thereby becoming the first Indigenous woman to receive such recognition from the UNAM. ‪‪Dr. Myrna Cunningham was named Chair of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues for the period 2011-2013.

 

Natalia Flores González 

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Natalia has a Bachelor of Social Sciences, with a focus on training women in political parties, trade unions and youth. In 2005, Natalia was in charge of the Executive Secretariat of the National Feminist Encuentro. She has worked at MEMCH women, Hexagram and CEDEM on gender in public policy and women's leadership, including the project "Women Leaders for the Twenty-First Century" (PROLID, 2007-08). Natalia is the Executive Secretary of the Centre for Gender and Equity, in charge of the lobby area, and parliamentary adviser in communication and advocacy strategies to social, trade union, sexual diversity and political candidates. She has participated in international meetings and forums, including Consonant Dialogues Feminist Network of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Spanish Cooperation System, the Rights of Women and the Instruments of Development Aid, Latin American Meeting of Women Parliamentarians Political Participation and New Technologies, the 10thRegional Conference on Women in Latin America and Caribbean, and the 6th Ibero-American Meeting of Women Leaders. She is a Board Member of Fondo Alquimia.

 

Jac SM Kee

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Jac SM Kee is a feminist activist committed to transformative politics in the issues of violence against women, culture, ‘race’, identities, communications & information rights and sexualities through building capacities in gender, media, communication and digital technologies; researching emerging issues; organizing awareness and advocacy campaigns especially through creative expressions, as well as writing analytical, fictional and poetical commentaries. Jac is the Women’s Rights Advocacy Coordinator for the Association of Progressive Communications, Women’s Networking Support Programme and heads the global campaign on violence against women and ICT as well as various research and advocacy initiatives looking at sexuality, women’s rights and the internet. She is also co-founder of Knowledge & Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) a regional organization that works with young people on the issue of rights through creative platforms, as well as founder of an artists and activists collective organizing around gender and civil and political rights in Malaysia. Jac is also co-director of the Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia,and serves in the board of CREA New York.

 

Usu Mallya

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Usu is a feminist activist, facilitator and animator; a sociologist & political scientist by training. Since 2007 to date, she is the Executive Director of the Tanzania Gender and Networking Programme (TGNP), a visionary transformative feminist CSO with acclaimed contributions in advocating for fundamental social transformation and alternative development frameworks that address both macro and micro factors and the intersections of sex, class, race and other social economic variables.  Usu is well experienced in the application of feminist methodology in action research; policy; review/analysis/evaluation/audit of budgets; training and capacity enhancement; manuals and tools development; media engagement; and the nurturing of mechanisms and fora for coalition and movement building.  Usu provided leadership to TGNP at a time when the organization was undergoing major restructuring and repositioning towards strengthening transformative feminist consciousness as well as grounding its work in grassroots activism. This exposure has strengthened her capacity and leadership in change management, institutional development and growth grounded in feminist principles and values.  Usu is a strategist and capable fundraiser for the advancement of women rights and feminist work. In the past 15 years, Usu has engaged in strategic partnership building with likeminded institutions, coalition's allies within Tanzania, at regional and international levels.

 

Alice Odingo

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Alice Odingo offers a combination of skills and expertise in environmental management and socio-economic empowerment of women.  She is a leader, distinguished academic, and author of several publications on climate change and environmental issues affecting women, in addition to poverty eradication and the role of women in ensuring food security. Alice is the Chairperson of the Women and Climate Change Project of the Soroptimist International Union of Denmark and Kenya, sponsored by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one of the founding Directors of Biocarbon Imperatives-Africa, which works with women to conserve the environment, improve livelihoods, and bring peace to communities.  She is Senior lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi. As a Major Group Facilitating committee member, representing the Women's Major Group, she plays a significant role in shaping communications to the UN and defining issues for international advocacy. She has demonstrated leadership in international processes including the Rio+20 UN Summit and other high level UNEP meetings. She previously worked as a Project Officer for Climate Network Africa, and established a number of projects in the area of energy, environment, health, and sustainable development.

 

Valentina Pellizer

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Valentina Pellizer is a feminist activist and the executive director of the One World Platform for South East Europe (OneWorldSEE). OneWorldSEE is a vibrant online community contributing to faster democratic development and positive social change within civil societies of the region. She has extensive experience in using technologies for social change, including initiating the Digital Story Telling for transformation practitioner network in South East Europe. She has facilitated digital story telling workshops in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Italy and Bosnia Herzegovina with survivors of violence, LGBTI groups and women in prisons, amongst other marginalized communities. Valentina has been a champion of the Take Back The Tech campaign since its inception in 2006 and brings a strong, radical, feminist perspective to the relationship(s) between women’s rights and technology in policy and practice. She is an active member of a number of women’s rights, queer and ICT movements in the SEE region. Valentina is also the chair of the board of the Association for Progressive Communications and board member of Akcija Gradjana a BiH based grassroot organization and, as such has significant experience in the governance of a diverse, geographically dispersed and heterogeneous network and organisation.

 

Shirley Pryce 

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Shirley Pryce a former domestic worker and a Human Rights Advocate and for over 20 years has been voluntarily championing for the empowerment and rights of domestic workers around the globe. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Under her leadership the Jamaican Household Workers Association has move to be a Union.  Her membership has grown from 175 to over 3000; she has a clear vision for her organization in advancing the development agenda of domestic workers in Jamaica and the Caribbean. She has demonstrated great determination, transparency, and perseverance in her endeavors to improve the situation of domestic workers. Shirley was one of two Caribbean representatives who participated in the International Labour Conference to develop and adopt the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No.189). Her organization is one of the founding members of the Caribbean Domestic Workers Network, which she now Chair. She has taken on speaking engagements around the world sharing best practice on organizing domestic workers, and assisted domestic workers in Antigua to form a domestic workers’ organization. Shirley continues to work diligently on issues affecting women so that their live may be impacted in a positive way.

 

Kaythi Win

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Kaythi was able to set up a national rights-based program for female sex workers in Burma that includes not only HIV programming but focuses on sexual and reproductive health as well. She is currently Senior Program Manager for the Targeted Outreach Program (TOP) which focuses HIV prevention, treatment and support services to sex workers in Burma. Kaythi oversees a program that includes 19 drop-in centres and sexual health clinics for sex workers throughout the country. Prior to the establishment of TOP, no services at all existed for sex workers in Burma and it was Kaythi’s intrepid spirit coupled with local street knowledge that was crucial to this progressive enhancement. She currently serves as the elected Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) and is a well-known and respected advocate for the rights of sex workers on a national, regional and global level. Kaythi serves as an inspiration to sex worker activists in other countries where the situation for advancing sex workers’ rights and sexual health must be conducted in environments that are legally restrictive. Kaythi is the focal point for sex workers in Myanmar and regularly consults with UN co-sponsors on sex worker issues and policy. Kaythi was particularly inspired by the warm reception her plenary speech received at the AWID congress and is keen to build stronger links between the sex worker rights movement and the women’s rights movement.

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