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Rangita de Silva de Alwis

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Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership

Rangita de Silva de Alwis is a globally recognized international women’s rights expert. She serves as the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School where she teaches International Women’s Human Rights; Women, Law, and Leadership; and the Policy Lab, including the Policy Lab on AI and Bias, and directs the Global Institute for Human Rights. She was named the Hillary Rodham Clinton Distinguished Fellow on Gender Equity, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. She is a Fellow with the Private Capital Research Institute at Harvard Business School on a study on diversity and inclusion in private equity (2021-2022). Rangita is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession where she is co-authoring a study with Under Secretary General Mlambo-Ngcuka on the transformative impact of business leadership, innovation, and inclusion on accelerating the SDGs.

Rangita has been appointed Leader-in-Residence at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program for 2019-2021 academic years. In the summer of 2022, she will be directing the Cherie Blair Women’s Leadership Institute for Afghan Women at the Asian University for Women.

In 2017, she started the Global Women’s Leadership Project and Women, Law, and Leadership Lab under the auspices of UN Women’s Executive Director, Under Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to map the laws that regulate the status of women in the family.

Rangita serves as Special Advisor to the President of Wellesley College and was Distinguished Adviser to the Executive Director of UN Women on global women’s rights and women’s leadership. Rangita also served on the UN Women High-Level Working Group on Women’s Access to Justice and as Advisor to Gender Equality at UNESCO.

In 2017, she was appointed a Global Advisor to the UN Sustainable Development Goal Fund. Most recently, Rangita advised the European Union in directing Foreign Policy and development cooperation in the EU Resolution, “Toward an EU external strategy against early and forced marriage,” introduced before the European Parliament in 2018. By appointment by the Hon. Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia, she serves on the Steering Group for the Global Gender and Leadership Index at King’s College, London. At the appointment of the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency, Rangita serves as an Expert to the Access to Justice and Technology Task Force of the World Bank. She has testified before the United States Congressional Committees on development cooperation on gender equality.

Before coming to the Law School, she was the inaugural director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges at Wellesley College, which then moved to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Rangita is a women’s human rights scholar and practitioner with over 25 years of experience working globally in over 25 countries with a vast network of academic institutions, government, and nongovernment entities on women’s human rights law, policy-making, and institutional reform. She has convened several transnational networks including the Women’s Leadership Network in Muslim Communities, the Asia Cause Lawyer Network in India, and the Gender and Law Expert Group with women academics in China. She has taught for many years at the China Women’s College.

She has advised UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP on state accountability under the relevant human rights treaties and the intersections of the different treaties and treaty bodies. She has lectured at Yale Law School and spoken around the world on gender-based law reform. She has served as Visiting Faculty at the Hong Kong University School of Law in 2017 and 2018. She has published widely with the United Nations and in various leading law journals including the University of Pennsylvania East Asia Law Journal, University of Pennsylvania International Law Journal, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, Texas Journal of Gender and the Law, Duke Journal of Gender and the Law, UCLA Pacific Rim Journal, UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Relations, Michigan Journal of International Law, University of Washington International Law Journal, Berkeley Journal of International Law, and Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law.

Most recently, she developed a Gender Supplement to the UN Secretary General’s Guidelines on Disability and a report to the World Bank on Women’s Voice and Agency. Her latest work has been on Gender and Disability Lawmaking for UN DESA.

Rangita has a LLM and SJD from Harvard Law School, where she was also a Teaching Fellow with the European Law Research Institute. Additionally at Harvard, Rangita was a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government and a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program.

She was a Fulbright Specialist with the Asian University of Women, a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at Wellesley College, a Senior Scholar at Wellesley Centers for Women, a Salzburg Global Fellow, and an Honorary Professor of China Women’s University. She has received many recognitions for her work on international women’s human rights. In 2015, she was honored by Harvard Law School as a Woman Inspiring Change. She serves on several boards, including the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University, and the Landesa Board of Directors, and she is a trustee of the Harpswell Foundation.

Currently, Rangita is working on a chapter on gender equality and leadership for the Handbook on the Sustainable Development Goals (Oxford University Press). Rangita’s recent work was featured in the Financial Times (FT), and she has also appeared on C-Span’s Book TV. Rangita also leads the Thomson Reuters Project on Inclusion and Transforming Women’s Leadership that can be found here.