Learn more about the convener & speaker biographies for the High-Level Roundtable on Women and Legislative Reform.
Since 2008, Begoña Lasagabaster Olazabal has worked as a specialist and advisor on women’s leadership and political participation at the United Nations, first with UNIFEM and currently with UN Women as the Chief of Leadership and Government. She served as a special Envoy for Ms. Michelle Bachalet. Having studied European High Law at the University of Salamanca, Olazabal is a Spanish lawyer specializing in Community, Civil and Private International Law. She was in charge of International Relations of her National Executive and was elected Deputy for the House of Deputies of Spain for Guipúz in 1996, 2000 and 2004 during which time she held the position of spokesperson for a large variety of Commissions, most notably the Mixed Commission (Congress-Senate) for the European Union and Development Cooperation and Aid. She was also Vice-President of the Basque Council of the European Movement.
Saniye Gülser Corat
Saniye Gülser Corat is the Director of the Division for Gender Equality in the Office of the Director-General at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Before joining UNESCO in September 2004, she pursued a diversified career as an academic at Carleton University in Canada and a senior international development advisor to several international organizations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Canadian International Agency and the International Research Development Centre, planning, managing, monitoring, evaluating projects and programmes in areas ranging from education, social and economic development, institutional strengthening, gender equality, technology transfer to local governance and climate change in over 30 countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. She also has private sector experience as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an international development consulting company in Canada for almost 10 years.
Gülser Corat graduated from Robert College and Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. She holds graduate degrees in European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, and in International Political Economy from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs and the Political Science Department of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She has a post-graduate degree from Harvard University Kennedy School, USA.
Paloma Durán earned a PhD on the Jurisprudence of the European Court on Human Rights and has since written many books and articles on Human Rights and Social Rights. She participated in many UN and European meetings, as academic, expert and adviser. She was Counselor for Human Rights and Social Affairs in the Permanent Mission of Spain to the UN during 2001/2004. During that time she was the main negotiator for many resolutions of the UN on Human Rights and Social issues, and she also was the main negotiator on those themes in UN-New York, during the Spanish Presidency of the European Union (2002).
She was one of the six experts of the Working Group of the Council of Europe on Affirmative Actions and one of the authors of the report approved by the Council. Currently, she is Professor in the Law School of the University Complutense (Madrid, Spain).
Paloma Durán has been Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (SDGF) since September 2014.
Rangita de Silva de Alwis
(United States – Sri Lanka)
Rangita de Silva de Alwis is the Associate Dean of International Affairs at University of Pennsylvania Law School. She teaches International Women’s Human Rights Law. At Penn Law she has developed partnerships with OHCHR, UN Women and UNESCO and other multinational organizations. She also serves as the Academic Director of Penn Law’s Global Institute for Human Rights.
Before coming to Penn Law, 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 and 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 and the Women’s Watch in China. She has worked over 15 years with Chinese gender and law experts and academics and has testified twice before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on the status of women’s rights in China. 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 published widely with the United Nations, and in various leading law journals including with Yale Journal of Law and Feminism; Texas Journal of Gender and the Law; University of Pennsylvania East Asia Law Journal; 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, and University of Pennsylvania International Law Journal.
Most recently, she developed a Gender Supplement to the U.N. 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. Her paper on Women and Constitution-making in Tunisia is to be published by the Berkeley Journal of International Law, and Women and the Reform of Personal Laws in India to be published by the NYU Journal of International Law and Policy.
Rangita has a LL.M and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School and was a Teaching Fellow with the European Law Research Institute at Harvard Law School, a Research Fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and a Visiting Fellow at 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 Visiting 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. Most recently she was honored by Harvard Law School as a Woman Inspiring Change, Women’s International Day, and March 2015. She serves on several Boards including the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University and is a trustee of the Harpswell Foundation.
Lina Abou-Habib is Executive Director of Women’s Learning Partnership, and Executive Director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development–Action (CRTD-A), which promotes women’s leadership, political participation, and citizenship and economic rights in Lebanon and the MENA region. Abou-Habib is a co-founder and coordinator of the Machreq/Maghreb Gender Linking and Information Project. She has collaborated with a number of regional and international agencies, as well as public institutions, in mainstreaming gender in development policies and practices and in building capacities for gender mainstreaming. She is a former chair of the board of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), and she currently is a MENA advisor for the Global Fund for Women and on the editorial board of Oxfam’s journal, Gender and Development. Abou Habib is a PhD candidate at the Auckland University of Technology. Her interest areas include action oriented research on the impact of the denial of citizenship rights to women in MENA countries, active citizenship and gendered social entitlements in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt, and topics related to women and their political participation, invisible care work, economic contribution in rural communities and access to markets, faith based organizations, migrant women, and women in post-war Lebanon.
Abou-Habib’s selected research publications include the articles “Access of rural women’s cooperatives to markets in Lebanon: Barriers, enablers and options for action”, in Gender Research in Natural Resources Management, Routledge, 2013; “The right to have rights: active citizenship and gendered social entitlements in Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine”, in the Gender and Development Journal, Volume 19, Number 3, November 2011; “Gender and Citizenship Rights: The case of the Arab Region,” in the Gender and Development Journal, January 2004, Oxford, UK; “ CEDAW in the Arab World: An International Yet Unbinding Treaty”, in In Brief Gender & Development Bridge Bulletin, issue 10, March 2002, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK; “Family Laws and Gender Discrimination : Advocacy for Legal Reforms in the Arab World” in Gender Perspectives on Property & Inheritance; A Global Sourcebook, Critical Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies Series, The Royal Tropical Institute, Netherlands, 2001; “Advocacy around disability and reconciliation in the midst of war. An experience from Lebanon,” RRN Newsletter, February 99 issue, UK; “Regionalisation and furthering gender in Oxfam Programme in the Middle East & Maghreb”, by Omar Traboulsi & Lina Abu-Habib, in Gender Works, Oxfam’s Experience in Policy & Practice, June 1999; ‘The Uses & Abuses of Female Migrant Workers from Sri Lanka in Lebanon’ in Gender & Development, Volume 6, number 1, March 1998; ‘Mainstreaming Gender in Development NGOs: Experiences from Lebanon’ in Bridgelist, March 1998; “Gender & Disability: Women’s Experience in the Middle East’, Gender and Development, an Oxfam (UKI) Publication, September 1997; “Overview of Gender Training in the Middle East’ in Gender Training, the Source Book, a publication of the Royal Tropical Institute, Holland, May 1998; “Caught between two fires: the civilian population in South Lebanon” in Refugees Participation Network (University of Oxford) , September 1997; “Education of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: A lost generation” in Refugees Participation Network (University of Oxford), May 1996 and “Women & Disability don’t Mix!” in Gender & Development, March 1995.
(Iran – United States)
Mahnaz Afkhami is founder and President of the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP), an international women’s organization in consultative status with UNECOSOC that empowers grassroots women to become leaders in politics, business, and civil society; Executive Director of the Foundation for Iranian Studies. Prior to the Islamic revolution in Iran, she was Minister for Women’s Affairs and Secretary General of the Women’s Organization of Iran, chair of the English Department and taught literature at the National University of Iran, where she founded and the Association of University Women.
As Minister for Women’s Affairs, Afkhami played a key role in passage of the progressive 1975 Family Law in Iran and the establishment of United Nation’s Asian and Pacific Centre for Women and Development (APCWD) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). She has led numerous task forces and lectured on democratization, leadership, civil society-building, and women’s human rights including multinational delegations to the UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna (1993) and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995). Her publications include Muslim Women and the Politics of Participation; Claiming Our Rights: A Manual for Women’s Human Rights Education in Muslim Societies; Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World: In the Eye of the Storm: Women and the Law in Iran; Women in Post-revolutionary Iran: and Women in Exile; and Towards a Compassionate Society. She has co-authored several that have been translated into twenty languages, including Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women; Leading to Action: A Political Participation Handbook for Women; Victories Over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls; and Beyond Equality: A Manual for Human Rights Defenders.
Afkhami serves on the boards and steering committees of the Freer/Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, the Advisory Committee on Women, the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, and the Foundation for Iranian Studies. From 2000-2014, she served as Chair of the Global Council at the International Museum of Women.
Slyvia Chirawu is the National Director of WLSA Zimbabwe. She holds an LLB(S), an MSc International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe and an LLM from the American University, Washington College of Law. She is the recipient of the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship (2005-6), a Fulbright funded program that recognizes commitment to human rights and public service. As part of this Fellowship, she specialized in gender and the international protection of women and children’s rights at Washington College of law. Chirawu also teaches family law and estate succession and is currently the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Zimbabwe as well as Chairperson of the Private Law Department. She has written and co-written publications on violence against women, human trafficking and HIV/AIDS and the law and more recently a book on the law of succession. She has contributed as an international expert as follows: International Council on human rights policy : When legal worlds overlap: Human rights, state and non-state law (Geneva 2008), Canadian HIV/AIDS legal network: Respect, protect and fulfil: Legislating for women’s rights in the context of HIV/AIDS : Volume two : Family and property law issues ( 2009), Sex, rights and the law in a world with AIDS : (Mexico, 2009) and Danish Institute for International affairs : Access to justice and security : Non-state actors and the local dynamics of ordering : Copenhagen, November 2010; World bank Violence against women(2013) and removing restrictions to enhance gender equality(2014) for the Women, business and the law series and Getting to equal (2016). Chirawu is a member of the Estate Administrators Council of Zimbabwe. She is currently undertaking Doctorate studies with the University of South Africa focusing on equality and the matrimonial legal framework.
Yakın Ertürk received a PhD in development sociology from Cornell University in 1980. She served as a faculty member at the Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey (Sept.1986 – Oct 2010); prior to that she also taught at Hacettepe University (1983-86) and Riyad University, Center for Girls (1979-82).
In addition to her academic career, she undertook consultancy for various national and international agencies on rural development and women in development projects in Turkey, India, Egypt and Yemen (1986-2003). In 1997, on sabbatical from her University, she joined the United Nations, first as Director of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic (Oct.1997- Feb.1999), then as Director of The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) at UN Headquarters in New York (March 1999 – Oct. 2001), after which she returned to the academia.
As an independent expert, she held numerous international human rights mandates, including: Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (SRVAW) (2003-2009) - where she undertook 17 fact finding missions to various countries; received complaints regarding violations of women’s human rights from around the world; and prepared thematic reports on violence against women, its causes and consequences for submission to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.; member of the Council of Europe, Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) (2009-2013), which monitors how people deprived of their liberty are treated; member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry of the June 2010 events in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan (Oct. 2010-April 2011); member of the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syrian Arab Republic of the UN Human Rights Council (12 Sept. 2011-23 March 2012). Ertürk is currently coordinating a research in 11 countries on family law and violence against women, which is part of a WLP project on family law reform (April 2016 -present).
Her academic areas of interest are: International Human Rights Regimes; Identity Politics, Conflict and Violence against Women; Globalization and Population Movements; Household Labour Use Patterns and Women in Development. A selection of her more recent publications include Violence without Borders: Paradigm, Policy and Practical Aspects of Violence against Women) in WLP Translation Series, 2016. (Originally published in Turkish in 2015); “The Missing Link in Women’s Human Rights” in openDemocracy, 6 March 2015. (www.opendemocracy.net); “Iran: a ‘bloody stain’ on the nation” in openDemocracy, 25 November 2014. (www.opendemocracy.net); “Due diligence for women’s human rights: transgressing conventional lines” in openDemocracy, 10 December 2013. (www.opendemocracy.net); “Culture versus Rights Dualism: a myth or a reality?” in Development, 55(3): 273–276, 2012.; B. Purkayastha (Co-author), “Linking Research, Policy and Action: A look at the work of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women”in Current Sociology, 60 (2): 142-160, 2012.; “Towards a Post-Patriarchal Gender Order: Confronting the universality and the particularity of violence against women” in Sociologisk forskning (Swedish National Sociological Review), Vol 46, No 4: 61-70, 2009.; “The Due Diligence Standard: What Does It Entail for Women’s Rights?” in Carin Benninger-Budel (Ed.) Due Diligence and its Application to Protect Women fromViolence, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: 27-46, 2008.; “Turkey’s Modern Paradoxes in Identity Politics, Women’s Agency and Universal Norms” in M. Ferree and A. Tripp (Eds). Global Feminism: Transnational Women’sActivism, Organizing, and, Human Rights: New York: New York University Press: 79-109, 2006.; “Considering the Role of Men in Gender Agenda Setting: Conceptual and Policy Issues.” Feminist Review. Issue 78: 3-22, 2004.
(Iran – United States)
Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, the former and founding Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, is a Public Policy Fellow at the Wilson Center. She has had a rich and varied career. In her native Iran, she was a journalist, served as deputy secretary general of the Women’s Organization of Iran, and was the deputy director of a cultural foundation where she was responsible for the activities of several museums and art and cultural centers. She taught Persian language at Oxford University and, prior to coming to the Wilson Center, from 1980 to 1994, she taught Persian language, contemporary Persian literature, and courses on the women’s movement in Iran at Princeton University. Dr. Esfandiari was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from 1995 to 1996.
Haleh Esfandiari is the author of My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran (September 2009), Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran’s Islamic Revolution (1997), editor of Iranian Women: Past, Present and Future (1977), co-author of Best Practices: Progressive Family Laws in Muslim Countries, the co-editor of The Economic Dimensions of Middle Eastern History (1990) and also of the of the multi-volume memoirs of the famed Iranian scholar, Ghassem Ghani.
Haleh Esfandiari is the first recipient of a yearly award established in her name, the Haleh Esfandiari Award; this award was presented to her by a group of businesswomen and activists from countries across the Middle East and North Africa region on the occasion of a conference sponsored by the Wilson Center – Women Entrepreneurs: Business and Legal Reform in the MENA Region – held in Amman, Jordan in May 2008. Her other awards include: a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant (1997); the Special American Red Cross Award (2008); the Women’s Equality Award from the National Council of Women’s Organizations (2008); and Miss Hall’s School Woman of Distinction Award (2009). In December 2008, she became one of three first annual recipients of the Project on Middle East Democracy’s “Leader for Democracy” award.
Dr. Esfandiari received her Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Esfandiari serves on the Board of the Peace Research Endowment and on the board of advisors for the Project on Middle East Democracy. She was featured in Parade magazine (May 2008), in O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine (November 2008), and in Vogue magazine (August 2009).
Leta Hong Fincher
Leta Hong Fincher 洪理达 is author of the critically acclaimed book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed, 2014). Leta’s book was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best foreign policy books in 2014 by FP Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was also named on Verso and New Left Review’s list of favorite books to read for International Women’s Day in 2016.
Leta regularly speaks to news organizations such as CNN, BBC, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and The Economist on the subject of women and feminism in China. She has written for the New York Times, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She is the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for television feature reporting. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University’s Department of Sociology in Beijing. She also has a master’s degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard University. Leta was a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia University and is currently a Lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her next book is on the feminist awakening in China, published by Verso.
As one of Uganda’s leading crusaders against human trafficking, Igoye’s job today is eradicating such prejudices, both by highlighting the stories of female victims of trafficking, and by teaching women to take active roles in counter-trafficking efforts.
Igoye wears multiple hats in her job with Uganda’s Ministry of Internal Affairs: She is the deputy national coordinator of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons department, and the training manager for the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control. Besides monitoring and coordinating all counter-trafficking activities in the country, she has also trained about 2,000 law-enforcement officers in counter-trafficking measures. Her work spans 13 different ministries, directorates, and agencies, as well as outreach to various non-governmental organizations and the media. She recently began a year-long fellowship at Harvard University, though she continues her regular work as well; her latest passion project is building a center for female human-trafficking survivors in Uganda with the $50,000 in prize money that she was awarded by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation in April.
Farahnaz Ispahani is the author of the recently released book (Harper-Collins, India) Purifying The Land of The Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.
In 2015, she was a Reagan-Fascell Scholar at the National Endowment for Democracy, in Washington, DC where she worked on Women and Extremist groups with a particular focus on the women of ISIS. Ispahani was a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center from 2013-2014.
A Pakistani politician, Ispahani served as a Member of Parliament and Media Advisor to the President of Pakistan from 2008-2012. She returned to Pakistan with Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 after opposing the Musharraf dictatorship in the preceding years. In Parliament she focused on the issues of terrorism, human rights, gender based violence, minority rights and US-Pakistan relations. The most notable pieces of legislation enacted with her active support include those relating to Women’s Harassment in the Workplace and Acid Crimes and Control, which made disfiguring of women by throwing acid at them a major crime. She was also a member of the Women’s caucus in the 13th National Assembly. The caucus, which straddled political divides, was instrumental in introducing more legislation on women’s issues than has ever been done before during a single parliamentary term.
Ms. Ispahani spent the formative years of her career as a print and television journalist. Her last journalistic position was as Executive Producer and Managing Editor of Voice of America’s Urdu TV. She has also worked at ABC News, CNN and MSNBC.
She has contributed opinion pieces to the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The National Review, The Hindu, India, The News, Pakistan and The Huffington Post.
Ms Ispahani has spoken at many forums in the US and abroad including the Aspen Ideas Festival, The Brussels Forum, The Aspen Congressional Program, The Chautauqua Institute, The University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College, Jamia Millia University, Delhi.
LaShawn Jefferson is Perry World House’s Deputy Director. She brings to Perry World House over two decades of legal and policy advocacy, strategic planning and communications, and research and writing on women’s international human rights through civil-society organizations and philanthropy. She joined Perry World House after almost seven years at the Ford Foundation, where she worked to advance women’s human rights globally and in the U.S. through field building and investments in the areas of rights advocacy; strategic communications and engagement; intersectional leadership and analysis; research; and capacity building. For fourteen years, she also held several leadership positions at Human Rights Watch, a global human rights organization, where she led their women’s rights research and advocacy work, providing strategic and intellectual guidance to the work on women’s international human rights, crafting and executing long-term advocacy strategies, and representing HRW at the highest level of national and international fora. She is the author of many reports on a variety of issues confronting women around the world, and has written op-eds and articles that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and The International Herald Tribune. She received a BA from Connecticut College and an MA in International Relations and Latin American Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS.
Fatima Sbaity Kassem
Fatima Sbaity Kassem is Former Director, UN-Centre for Women, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) in Baghdad, Amman, and Beirut. She is a freelance consultant on gender and women’s issues in the Arab countries. She is an author and editor of numerous studies, articles and publications on developments in the status of women; feminization of poverty; implementation of CEDAW; and the history of women’s movements in Arab countries. Her main research focus is on the interconnections of religion, women, and political parties. She is a member of numerous professional associations and advisory boards, including the American Political Science Association; Association of Lebanese Women Researchers (Al-Bahithat); Board of Trustees, Centre of Arab Women for Training & Research (CAWTAR); Advisory Board, Arab Human Development Report 2005. She was cited in the 56th edition of Who’s Who in America in 2002.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s in Development Administration from the American University of Beirut. She also holds a master’s in International Economics; an M. Phil. degree in Political Economy; and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. Her Ph.D. dissertation was on Party Variation in Religiosity & Women’s Leadership: Lebanon in Comparative Perspective.
Asma Khader has over 40 years of experience as a specialized lawyer in human rights and legal protection of victims of human rights violations, is a civil society activist nationally in Jordan, regionally and internationally, and is a gender consultant and CEO for Sisterhood is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI-I).
Khader had experience in education and journalism before she started her career as a lawyer in 1979. After graduating from Damascus University she participated actively in the Jordanian Bar Association for Lawyers within the Arab Lawyers Union and was the rapporteur for its women’s committee from 1982-1992. She has been a member of the Jordanian Women Union since 1976; President of Jordan Women Union president from 1993-1997; and, in 1998 she co-founded and was the chair of MIZAN – Law group for Human Rights until 2003. She was co-founder of SIGI-J in 1998 and its first president.
Khader is the co-founder and leader of many Jordanian and Arab non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a member of the Royal Commission for the Drafting of the Jordanian National Charter. She played an important role as a member of the Royal Commission for Human Rights which was succeeded by the National Centre for Human Rights and appointed as a member of its Board. Her national appointments include Minister of Culture (2003-2005); Minister of State and the official spokesperson for the Jordanian Government (2013); Member of the Jordanian Senate (2013); Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for women (2007-2014); and Commissioner at the Independent Election Commission (2014-2016).
She has written and contributed to numerous books, papers, training manuals and lectures and provides key note speeches in different domestic and international forums and events regularly. She serves as an advisor, a member of advisory boards and board of trustees for many national, regional and international organizations such as The International Centre for Transitional Justice, International Centre for Human Rights Services, Equal Rights Trust, UNESCO Human Studies Centre in Beirut, Women Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace, Human Rights Watch and World Movement for Democracy.
Ambassador Moushira Mahmoud Khattab, Ph.D is an Egyptian human rights activist, former politician & diplomat. She is the former Minister of Family & Population of Egypt, Former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of Egypt to the Republic of South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well serving in Egypt’s diplomatic missions in Australia, Hungary, Austria and the United Nations (New York and Vienna). She is also a human rights activist advocating the rights of children and women and the former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child based at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.
Moushira Khattab holds a PHD on the rights of the child from Cairo University, an M.A. in International Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and a B.A. Political Science from Cairo University, Faculty of Economics and Political Science.
A career diplomat serving as Egypt’s first Ambassador To Nelson Mandela’s South Africa and before it Czechoslovakia during its peaceful separation to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Khattab ended her diplomatic career as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cultural Relations.
In 1999, Moushira Khattab shifted to the sphere of defending Women and Children’s rights as Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). The success of NCCM was crowned by its transformation into the Ministry of Family and Population and the appointment of Moushira Khattab as Minister. Since 1999, she has engineered a paradigm shift in the respect, protection, promotion & monitoring the implementation of the rights of women and children in Egypt. Ambassador Khattab coordinated national efforts targeting the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against children with special emphasis on girls. Combatting gender based violence including female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are some of the achievements engineered by Moushira Khattab with heavy involvement of civil society. This was brought about through a number of interventions including the Girl’s Education Initiative, providing quality active learning to poorer and marginalized girls; adolescents’ reproductive rights and combatting child labor and child abuse and neglect. She initiated, led and coordinated a national movement to support the most comprehensive rights based legal reform for children; crowned by the adoption of Law 126 in 2008 bringing Child Law in closer harmony with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The amended law criminalized trafficking in children, FGM, and most forms of violence and discrimination. It raised the minimum age for criminal responsibility from 7 to 12 years establishing a new system of child protection including a restorative juvenile justice system. As a Muslim woman she played an instrumental role in bringing Muslim countries together to support the global movement for the rights of children and women and adopting a human rights approach. A highlight of such efforts is the conference she organized in Cairo in 2009 in cooperation with the Organisation of Islamic States on Islamic Shariaa and the rights of the Child.
Khattab coordinated, in close collaboration with civil society, the formulation of key national policy documents including national strategies for the protection, rehabilitation and reintegration of street children, the elimination of Child Labor, and combatting violence against children. Key action plans were formulated including that on Girls’ Education, and Combatting Violence against Children, an “Egypt Fit for Children”, Rights Based Tracking of Public Budgeting for Children (for the first time ever in Egypt), and the National Survey on Street Children.
From March 2009 until February 2011 Khattab served as Minister of State for Family and Population of Egypt. She also holds the position of Vice-President of the International Bureau for Children’s Rights “IBCR”. Khattab represents the MENA Region on the Board of Child Helpline International and Chairs both the National Committee & the steering Committee of Middle East & North Africa on Violence against Children. Khattab served as Vice Chair, Rapporteur and member of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2002–2010. She is also a member in several associations such as the Women Leadership Council to combat trafficking in persons including children, UNGIFT- Vienna 2008. She Chaired the ad hoc UN intergovernmental expert group that formulated the UN Guidelines on Justice Matters related to children victims and witnesses to Crime adopted by ECOSOC in 2005. Moushira Khattab is Vice president of “Aflatoun Child Savings International” (Amsterdam) and is a regular lecturer on children’s rights to police officers, judges, women organizations and the media.
Since obtaining her doctorate degree and retiring from diplomatic and public life, Ambassador Khattab has been a regular contributor to several renowned academic and research institutions worldwide. In addition to a brief university teaching experience at home in Egypt, Dr Khattab has been a visiting professor at Wellesley College in Switzerland, University of Foreigners in Perugia (Italy) on gender and human issues as well as conducting research and delivering a number of lectures at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, which she has also represented at a number of conferences across Europe.
Dr. Xiaonan Liu is a professor and the Director of the Constitutionalism Research Institute at China University of Political Science and Law. Through this position, Xiaonan has conducted research and coordinated on cooperative projects on equality and nondiscrimination with International Labor Organization, Ford Foundation, Yale Law School China Law Center, and other foreign universities. She was also the team leader on a number of research projects that focused on gender equality and the condition of legal education in China. Xiaonan teaches anti-discrimination law, gender and law, and jurisprudence. Xiaonan holds an LL.M from Yale Law School, as well as an LL.B., Master of Law and Ph.D. from Jilin University School of Law.
(United States – Mexico)
Rachel Micah-Jones is an attorney and the Founder and Executive Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., the first transnational migrant rights organization based in Mexico and the United States. An award-winning leader in the migrant and workers’ rights movement, Rachel has focused on reforming international labor recruitment and the H-2A and H-2B guestworker programs to protect low-wage workers. Rachel has built an international coalition on recruitment reform, advocated for workers’ rights in strategic litigation against US government agencies and employers, and testified before international organizations, in US Congressional briefings, and before the Mexican Congress. Rachel’s writing on transnational migrant justice and clinical legal education has been published by the The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where she co-led a groundbreaking international clinic for law students. Rachel is a graduate of Georgetown University and American University Washington College of Law.
Rabéa Naciri is a founding member of the Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), one of the largest Moroccan NGOs focused on women’s rights, and a member of the National Human Rights Council of Morocco and the founder of the Equality Without Reservation Coalition which was established in 2006 by representatives of women’s human rights organizations based in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. The Coalition developed the Equality Without Reservation campaign consisting of 120 organizations from 17 Arab countries, advocating for the removal of all reservations to the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratification of the Convention’s Optional Protocol, and full implementation of the Convention by MENA governments to fully realize women’s human rights and gender equality in the region. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité, a network of women’s associations and women researchers from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia committed to preventing violence against women. She is a political advisor to the Euro-Mediterrean Human Rights Network and serves on several national Moroccan commissions related to the reform of the educational system in Morocco. Among her accomplishments include initiating the review of inheritance laws in the Maghreb.
Naciri is a renowned scholar and has written extensively on Arab women and poverty, women and Islam, capacity-building for women, strategy development for the promotion of women’s rights, women’s invisible work, as well as women’s work and the concept of Quiwama in Islam. Among her publications is the article “The Women’s Movement and Political Discourse in Morocco” in UNRISD Contribution to the Fourth Conference on Women Paper Series tracing the development of the contemporary women’s movement in Morocco, concentrating in particular on those associations which emerged in the mid-1980s out of the centre-left political parties.
Jacqueline Pitanguy, a sociologist, is the Founder and Executive Director of Cidadania, Estudo, Pesquisa, Informação e Ação (CEPIA) and is the former President of the National Council for Women’s Rights. She is member of the Board of the Brazil Fund for Human Rights and of the Commission on Citizenship and Reproduction. She is a member and consulted expert of the Brazilian Commission on Population and Development and the National Council for the Rights of Women. She is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue, of the Board of Women Learning Partnership (WLP) and of Action AID Brazil. She was a member of the World Movement for Democracy Steering Committee and the Carter Center’s International Human Rights Council, and she served on the boards of several international organizations, including the Society for International Development. She was also the Chair of the Board of the Global Fund for Women. Pitanguy is on the editorial board of several journals, has published numerous articles, and co-authored numerous books. She was awarded the Medal of Rio Branco, the highest decoration of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was one of 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Kavita Ramdas is a leading advocate for gender justice and respected thought commentator on critical global and domestic challenges. She is passionate about advancing equitable development, entrepreneurship, gender and racial equity and social change philanthropy. Kavita is an independent consultant and public speaker, who recently completed her tenure at the Ford Foundation as the Senior Advisor on Global Strategy where she worked to integrate an equity lens across all programs and develop a global philanthropy framework. Prior to this Kavita was based in New Delhi as the Ford Foundation’s Representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Under her leadership the Foundation decisively addressed the crisis of sexual violence in South Asia, built partnerships with local philanthropic leaders and successfully weathered challenges facing civil society.
Before joining the Ford Foundation, Kavita spent two years at Stanford University, as a Visiting Scholar with the Center on Philanthropy & Civil Society and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. As founding Executive Director of the Program on Social Entrepreneurship, she connected grassroots activists, philanthropy, academia and the private sector through a platform for social entrepreneurs to share ideas on democracy and civil society that continues to thrive at the university.
From 1996 to 2010 Kavita served as President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. Under her leadership the Fund exponentially grew in assets becoming the world’s largest public foundation for women’s rights. The Fund supported women in more than 170 countries providing access to financial capital that fueled innovation and Kavita played key roles in philanthropic and policy circles. Her vision, drive and management skills inspired individual and institutional donors to invest in education, defend reproductive rights, end violence and ensure women’s economic independence.
Kavita complements her global experience with many years spent combatting poverty in the United States during her tenure as a Program Officer at the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Her work in community development and economic justice culminated in leading a delegation of community organizers to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She also supported population and reproductive health and rights work in India, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria.
Currently Kavita serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Women’s Link Worldwide, the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation and as an Advisor to Room to Read, Trickle Up and the America India Foundation. She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Prior board tenure includes the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the General Service Foundation, the Women’s Funding Network, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Guttmacher Institute.
A gifted communicator, Kavita has spoken at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the World Economic Forum, TED and the United Nations. Media appearances include NOW with the Bill Moyers Show, the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Democracy Now! and CNN. An accomplished writer, she has written for the Huffington Post, Nation, ForeignPolicy, and Conscience.
Her numerous leadership awards include recognition by Mills College and Mount Holyoke College with the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters; the Women Deliver 100: The Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women 2010; The 2010 Legal Momentum Women of Achievement Award; and The 2010 Council on Foundations Robert Scrivner Award for Most Creative Grantmaker of the Year.
Kavita was born in India and educated at Delhi University, Mount Holyoke College, and Princeton University. She is married to Zulfiqar Ahmad, a writer and researcher. Their daughter, Mira Ahmad, is a recent graduate of Princeton University. Kavita is an avid reader, a yoga devotee and enjoys music, hiking, cooking and poetry.
Elizabeth Salguero was a Member of Parliament in Bolivia (2010-2015), served as the Minister of Cultures of Bolivia from February 2011 to January 2012. Ambassador of Bolivia in Germany from 2012-2015. During her time in the Parliament she was a key actor for the approval of many Gender Equality Bills. Now Bolivia is the second parliament in the world with highest number of women (53%) after Rwanda.
She has worked on GEWE issues before Beijing, attended the 4th World Conference as Bolivia coordinators, and works as an expert currently with UN Women in the CO of Bolivia.
Jodi J. Schwartz focuses on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, spin-offs and financial instruments. Ms. Schwartz has been the principal tax lawyer on numerous domestic and cross-border transactions in a wide range of industries. She was elected partner in 1990.
Ms. Schwartz received her B.S. in Economics magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981, her M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School) in 1984, her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984 and her LL.M. in taxation from the New York University Law School in 1987.
Ms. Schwartz is recognized as one of the world’s leading lawyers in the field of taxation, including being selected by Chambers Global Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers, Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers and as a tax expert by Euromoney Institutional Investor Expert Guides. In addition, she is a member of the Executive Committee and past chair of the Tax Section of the New York State Bar Association and also is a member of the American College of Tax Counsel.
Ms. Schwartz serves on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Jewish Community Project of Lower Manhattan and serves on the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Ms. Schwartz lives in Manhattan with her husband, son and daughter.