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.
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.
Hakima Abbas is an African feminist who has been active in social movements for two decades. Trained in political science and international affairs, her work as a policy analyst, trainer, strategist and researcher has focused on strengthening and supporting movements for change.
Hakima is a member of the Jang! collective that provides popular education tools, platforms and accompaniment to activists working for radical transformation. She is the editor and author of various publications and is on the editorial collective of The Feminist Wire. She currently serves as a board member to Greenpeace Africa, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Eastern Africa.
Zeina Zaatari is an Arab feminist from South Lebanon, who is part exiled, part migrant in California. She is currently an independent consultant and university lecturer focusing on gender and sexuality in the MENA. Zeina is also the Associate Editor for Europe and the Middle East and North Africa for the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. She is a trainer with two different programs focusing on research design, implementation, and analysis targeting junior faculty, graduate students, and professional researchers at national universities in Arab countries. Previously, Zeina worked as the Regional Director for the MENA Program at Global Fund for Women (2004-2012) where she managed a diverse grantmaking program to support women’s and trans peoples’ rights. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis in Feminist Theory from the University of California at Davis.
Her publications have focused on gender, sexuality (including queer sexuality), feminism, and movements, including: Social Movements and Revolution, In A Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East (2015); Desirable Masculinity/Femininity and Nostalgia of the “Anti-Modernity”: Bab el-Hara Television Series as a Site of Production, in Sexuality and Culture, (2015); “From Women’s Rights to Feminism: The Urgent Need for an Arab Feminist Renaissance.” In Arab Feminisms: Gender and Equality in the Middle East, (2014); Reframing the War on Terror: Feminist and Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Activism in the context of the 2006 Israeli Invasion of Lebanon, co-written with Nadine Naber in Cultural Dynamics (2014). Zeina’s current research project focuses on Interrogating Heteronormativity in Lebanon: Family, Citizenship, and Access to Adulthood.
Myrna Cunningham Kain
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.
Nidhi Goyal is a disabled feminist from India. Working at the intersection of disability and gender. She is committed to changing the lives of women and girls with disabilities.
Nidhi’s work spans research, writing, training, campaigns, advocacy, and art. She is the Sexuality and Disability Program Director at the non-profit Point of View where she has researched and co-authored a pioneering online initiative : Sexuality and Disability — a comprehensive online resource on disability, gender, sexuality and violence. Extending the reach of this platform, Nidhi designs and delivers accessible trainings across India and across impairments. Nidhi also consults with a range of national and global womens’ and human rights organizations. She is a researcher for Human Rights Watch and serves as regular faculty at CREA Institutes on sexuality, gender and rights.
Nidhi has been actively advocating at policy and legislative levels in India to address issues of girls and women with disabilities. She works to raise the profile of issues at the intersection of disability and gender through op-eds, journal articles, lectures in national and international forums. Nidhi is also on the board of ‘Standing Tall’ – an Indian affiliate of Handicap International, sits on the advisory board of “Voice” a grant making facility by Dutch Ministry, and has served on the international planning committee of AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development). Finally, she is a standup comic artist who uses humour to challenge prevalent notions around disability, gender and sexuality.
You can read more about Nidhi’s work @saysnidhigoyal.
Meerim is an activist with a passion for elevating women’s and SOGI rights issues that are not on the mainstream agenda. Women’s role in environmental justice and natural resource management, participation in both formal and informal decision making processes, and the rights of sexual and religious minorities are some of the areas Meerim has been engaging with throughout her work and personal life. Prior to her role as a Senior Program Officer at the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, where she leads work on security for WHRDs and sexual and gender-based violence, Meerim focused on research on women’s access to land in Muslim-majority societies, which included countries of Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. She is also a tireless advocate for indigenous women’s rights, and has worked with community groups in Alaska, Russia and Timor-Leste. Meerim was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan, and is a key resource person for women and trans activists in Central Asia and the former Soviet Union who are in need of urgent assistance. Due to personal experiences, Meerim has a deep commitment to the needs of people with disabilities.
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.
Cindy is a US-based feminist with a passion for exploring how organizations can better embody feminist values and practice to build stronger movements. She has worked as a facilitator, researcher and strategist on diverse women’s rights and justice issues.
She joined AWID in 2007 as the Manager for the Where is the Money for Women’s Rights? Program, and has co-authored numerous AWID reports on funding trends impacting women’s rights organizing. In 2009 she became AWID’s Director of Operations & Programs and between 2014-2016 has been the Director of Organizational Learning and Strengthening.
Prior to joining AWID, Cindy was one of the founding members of Just Associates, where she worked on a range of advocacy capacity and movement-building initiatives, drawing on methodologies of popular education and deep power analysis as the starting point for change strategies. Cindy has an M.A. in Human and Organizational Development, specializing in the study of change and learning processes in organizations.
Rakhee Goyal has been an advocate for the human rights, dignity, and empowerment of girls and women for three decades. Passionate about investing in education and value-based social change, she has pursued these goals in diverse contexts, from working within strong patriarchal cultures and STEM academia, to women's rights and international development NGOs, and most recently through helping found the social enterprise Appropriate IT.
She is advisory board member of Appropriate IT Development Academy (AIDA), which focuses on developing socially engaged young women leaders and empowering them to create economic wealth in depressed rural economies in India. Rakhee is former executive director of Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), a network of 20 organizations in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, working to empower women to become leaders and secure legal, political, and social gender justice. During her tenure she provided institutional leadership in developing the organization's strategic priorities to directing daily operations, and managing the design and implementation of grassroots training and evaluation programs for women’s leadership and organizational capacity-building.
Rakhee's prior work experience includes: coordinating culture-specific human rights education and gender violence projects in South Asia and the Middle East at Sisterhood Is Global Institute; working on gender mainstreaming practices of development organizations at InterAction’s Commission on the Advancement of Women; developing awareness and prevention strategies for gender-based violence at ASHA for Women; and conducting policy analysis to promote basic education and primary health for the anti-poverty grassroots advocacy group RESULTS. She has co-created several non-formal education tools for women's empowerment and capacity-building, including Making IT Our Own: Information & Communication Technology Training of Trainers Manual published in Arabic, English and French.
Betty Barkha, from the Fiji Islands has been involved in human rights advocacy since she was 18 years old. Prior to completing her Master of Arts in Sociology, she worked with various regional institutions on human rights, gender equality, peace & security, youth inclusion and climate change. She is currently serving on board with the FRIDA | Young Feminist Fund, Women Deliver Young Leaders Program and the Asia Pacific Alliance on Women Peace and Security. During a South-South learning exchange program with the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), she worked extensively on Beijing +20 and Development Justice. Her current work involves research under the Australian National University’s Pacific Research Colloquium to understand initiatives undertaken by grassroots and indigenous women in the Pacific using traditional knowledge to support climate resilience. Being able to equip women with knowledge on how to connect with leaders and institutions for immediate action are priorities given the release of a new development agenda in 2015. At 24, Betty has worked with a range of communities in the Asia-Pacific region with academic experience in the Middle East nations of Iran, Oman and Jordan. Betty's passion drives her commitment to the advancement of women and she hopes that climate resilience initiatives will be successful in saving her island home and neighbours in the region.
A survivor of FGM, Diakhoumba Gassama is an anti-FGM feminist human rights defender, who has actively engaged in spaces like the Council of Senegalese Women, the African Feminist Forum, AWID, FEMNET and the Research and Support Center for Development Alternatives.
Vice President of the Reseau National des Jeunes Femmes Leaders du Senegal, she has more than 10 years of experience working for intergovernmental organizations in Africa, Europe, New York and Asia and the Pacific, following closely and participating in inter-governmental processes around sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), human rights, gender equality, inclusive democratic governance and development. This includes work with the UNDP and the African Union on gender, women’s rights, and SRHR. Since 2014, she has been working as an independent national and international Legal Advisor with governments, civil society organizations and UN Agencies on increasing women's political participation, their access to justice and realization of human rights (including SRHR) through legal reform in Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Arab States regions.
A passionate panafropolitan feminist, war resister and human rights defender, she is fluent in French, English and Spanish. She is a national of Senegal and Belgium and lives in Dakar, Senegal. She is a member of the RESURJ alliance.
Erika Guevara Rosas
Erika Guevara Rosas is a human rights lawyer and feminist activist, who currently serves as the Americas Director at Amnesty International, where she leads the organization’s human rights work across the continent. She brings more than twenty years of social justice and peace activism, and over fifteen years of professional experience in human rights, gender justice and philanthropy. Prior to Amnesty, Erika served as Director for the Americas at the Global Fund for Women, where she secured and mobilised more than $15 million in support to women's rights organizing in the region. She also served as Legal/Protection Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), managing complex operations in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Venezuela, mainly in border areas with war-affected communities. Erika also has extensive experience working for non-governmental organizations in Canada and Mexico, including Sin Fronteras – a leading migration advocacy organization. Erika has served on the board of directors of the International Museum of Women and the Central American Women’s Fund and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute in Canada. She has led human rights research on diverse issues, including forced migration, sexual violence against women in conflict, gender justice, sexual and reproductive rights and human rights defenders, among others. Her articles and opinion pieces on human rights and politics in the Americas are frequently published in international media.
Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng
Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng is an independent consultant and researcher, coach, and facilitator based in Uganda. Her strength lies in building alliances and collaborative agendas between the marginalized, the elite, and the policymakers so as to challenge injustices, prejudice, taboos and stigma related to women survivors of violence in situation of armed conflicts. Ruth holds a M.A. in Communications Policy Studies and a B.Sc. in Information and Communication.
She has also undertaken several short courses in Gender, Facilitation of Organizational Development, advocacy and peace building and Conflict Resolution. During her tenure at Isis-WICCE, Ruth enabled the establishment of effective programmes that have amplified women’s voices and influenced post-conflict decision making and programming at all levels, in addition to supporting women’s leadership in communities affected by conflict and coordinating healing camps.
These processes led to the development of manuals centred on women’s human rights for use in training of activists and practitioners. Ruth has authored many published papers and articles, and coordinated the development of an array of video documentaries on Women, Conflict and Human Security that have been instrumental in informing national, regional and international policies and frameworks. She serves on several boards including: the African Partnership for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls (AMANITARE), based in South Africa; the International Coordinating Committee of Women Human Rights Defenders (global); Centre for Domestic Violence (CEDOVIP), in Uganda. She also serves on the Action Aid (Uganda) General Assembly.
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.