Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia)

Founding Member, IWRAW-AP, Former CEDAW Committee Member

Shanti served as CEDAW Committee Member in 2005-2008; CEDAW Committee, Rapporteur, 2007-2008; Member, Gender Equality Task Force, UNDP, 2007- present; Member, Advisory Panel, Disability Rights Fund, Boston, USA, 2008-present Member of the Board of Directors, 1996- Present; Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Institute for the Empowerment of Women. Shanti serves as member of the Advisory Committee of International Women Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Malaysia and the Malaysian National Advisory Council on Women.

Her most recent publications include The Practice of Child Marriage in South Asian Countries: A Gross Form of Gender Based Discrimination and a Violation of Human Rights, July2006; The Relevance of the Links between Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals, February 2005; A Rights Based Approach to Women’s Health: Relationship between Research and Policy, October 2004; Building Capacity for Change: Training Manual on the Application of the Principles of the Convention to Promote Women’s rights, Editor, IWRAW Asia Pacific. 2001/2002.

Anya Victoria Delgado (Mexico)

Independent Researcher and human rights advocate

Anya is a Mexican human rights defender. She is engaged with different initiatives to raise awareness, locally and regionally, of the women’s human rights. She coordinates a UN inter-agency project on gender violence in indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico, sponsored by the Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women. Currently, she is also involved in the development and production of a non-commercial documentary film on the situation of women refugees living in Mexico. In the past, she has worked as an UNV for the UNHCR- Mexico, as a consultant for the OHCHR-Mexico, and was a fellow for the Rapporteurship on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC. She has also participated in a pro-bono basis with national and local organizations in Mexico in the elaboration of shadow reports to be submitted to the CEDAW Committee. Along with the Women’s Human Rights Education Institute, she collaborated as a facilitator in the first CEDAW training week addressed to indigenous women in Colombia.

Colette De Troy (Belgium)

Director, European Women’s Lobby Observatory on Violence Against Women

A sociologist and criminologist by profession, Collete joined the EWL in 1998 to work on violence against women and today heads its Observatory, bringing together VAW experts from 30 European countries. She has managed transnational projects such as the V-Day Stop Rape Project and awareness campaigns on sex trafficking in 14 countries. Colette has worked as co-director of an information services cooperative on women in Europe, consultant for the European Commission on training and employment of migrant women, director of a Brussels-based grassroots NGO for young migrant women, researcher on Belgian prisons and director of the University of Montreal’s Criminology Program in Adult Education.

Noraida Endut (Malaysia)

Senior Lecturer, Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA), Universiti Sains Malaysia

Noraida Endut is Senior Lecturer at the Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her academic and research interests are in law and women issues. She is currently involved in various research projects, the majority of which looks into the issue of violence against women and women’s access to law and justice. She is also a lead researcher in an ongoing inter-institutional research collaboration looking into the impact of polygamous marriage on Muslim family lives. Noraida has published articles and monographs on the issues of intervention in domestic violence cases, legal pluralism and its relation to marriage and divorce, women’s access to the legal system in Malaysia and guardianship law and its impact on the rights of Muslim women in Malaysia. Her other publication relates to tertiary education issues such as students’ learning behaviour and thinking techniques.  Noraida is also currently the Deputy Director of KANITA.

Yasmine Ergas (USA)

Associate Director, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

Yasmine Ergas is an Adjunct Associate Professor of International Law and International Human Rights Law at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University. She is currently engaged in a study on The Transnationalization of Everyday Life, Human Rights and the Dilemmas of International Law, which examines such issues as the emergent market in reproductive surrogacy. She has served on the staff of the Social Science Research Council and as a consultant to leading international organizations, including the OECD and UNESCO.

Julie Goldscheid (USA)

Professor of Law, City University of New York (CUNY), USA

Julie Goldscheid is a Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law, where she teaches subjects including contracts, civil procedure, lawyering, and gender equality.  She writes and speaks widely about gender equality, with a particular focus on gender-based violence and economic equality. Before joining the CUNY faculty, she held positions including Acting Legal Director at Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) where she  spearheaded that organization’s legal work to end violence against women, including defending the constitutionality of the civil rights remedy of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison.  She subsequently served as General Counsel of Safe Horizon, a leading victim assistance, advocacy, and violence prevention organization.  She has been active in bar association committees and task forces addressing gender equality and gender violence.

Michelle C. Haynes (USA)

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, USA

Michelle C. Haynes is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she teaches courses in research methodology. For over ten years she has specialized in multiple research methods, including survey design, and is an expert in data analysis techniques.  Michelle is also an associate at the Center for Women and Work. Her research focuses on the experiences of women and ethnic/racial minorities in the workplace, with a particular interest in policy development and social justice. She has published numerous articles examining of impact of gender as a source of differential evaluations and treatment.  She received her doctorate in Psychology from New York University, with a concentration in quantitative methods.

Lebrechtta Nana Oye Hesse-Bayne (Antigua and Barbuda)

Programme Officer in the Directorate of Gender Affairs

Lebrechtta (informally known as Nana) worked with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as a Programme Officer in the Directorate of Gender Affairs. Nana’s work experience spans from Antigua and Barbuda, Ghana, United Kingdom and the United States. Nana has been engaged in the areas of programme management, advocacy, capacity and building in the areas of Gender, HIV/AIDS, poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods.   Nana holds a MSc in Development Management specializing in Poverty Reduction and Sustainable livelihoods, and a BA in Economics and French with a Minor in Pre-Law. She currently works as a consultant with the RC’s Office on UN Coordination.

Homa Hoodfar (Canada)

Professor of Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal

Homa Hoodfar’s primary research and expertise lies in legal and political anthropology. She examines the intersection of political economy; gender and development; and citizenship rights in Muslim contexts. She has extensively studied survival and empowerment strategies in those communities marginalised by legal constraints particularly in the area of family law and citizenship in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, and in Canada’s Muslim community. She has  written extensively on reproductive health policies, their discursive justifications, and their impact on women’s lives. Dr. Hoodfar has also been actively involved in Women Living Under Muslim Laws Network since 1980s. Her publications include, Homa Hoodfar & Mona Tajali, Electoral Politics: Making Quotas work for women, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (London, 2011);  Sajida Alvi & Sheila McDonough (eds.), The Muslim Veil in North America: Issues and Debates, Canadian Scholars’ Press (Toronto, 2003). Between Marriage and the Market, Berkeley University of California Press (1997); and numerous articles on her different research project including women and family law and citizenship in the Middle East.

Sara Hossain (Bangladesh)

Barrister, Supreme Court of Bangladesh

Sara Hossain mainly practices in the areas of constitutional, public interest and family law, since 1992. She is a partner at the law firm of Dr. Kamal Hossain and Associates responsible for, among others, pro bono work. Sara is associated with several legal aid and human rights groups nationally and internationally. She is currently serving as Honorary Director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Service Trust. She is also Chairperson of Bangladesh’s pioneering a member of the Dhaka-based human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra. Internationally, Sara is, among others, a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Member, of the Human Rights Committee of the International Law Association (ILA), Member of the Advisory Committee of the Women’s International Coalition on Gender Justice (WICG). Sara’s recent cases relevant to gender equality have been on challenges to government inaction regarding extra judicial penalties in the name of ‘fatwa’ in traditional dispute resolution processes, on the practice of forced veiling, on forced marriage, and on sexual harassment. Sara has also published several articles on, inter alia, the issues of gender, sexual violence and so-called crimes of ‘honour’.

Afaf Jabiri (Jordan)

Senior Advisor, Academy for Educational Development

Afaf Jabiri is a leading women’s rights activist in Jordan and across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), advocating for legal reform and policy change at the local, national and international levels. Serving as a board member of the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) since the 1990s, she worked to establish its hotline and shelter for women survivors of violence, a first in Jordan and the Arab region. Most recently she represented the JWU coalition in front of the CEDAW Committee review of Jordan. From 2004-2008, she served as regional director for KARAMA (Dignity) project which aimed to find strategic solutions for ending violence against women by building national and regional networks of women’s rights activists in nine MENA countries. Afaf served as an advisor on gender-based violence and women’s rights for various UN agencies and international organizations, including UNIFEM- Arab Regional Office, Open Society Institute, Academy for Educational Development, and the Centre for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR). Her work includes legal analysis of local laws vis-à-vis international conventions, development of advocacy strategies to advance human rights, as well as training and mentoring support to civil society organizations in the design and implementation of their advocacy campaigns. Afaf holds MPhil degree in International Politics from University of Glasgow. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Gender Studies/School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She contributed to a number of global reports such as the UNDP report on “Gender in Public Administration”.

Brenda K. Kombo (Kenya)

Independent Researcher / Consultant

Brenda K. Kombo is a sociocultural anthropologist whose primary research interest is in examining human rights and the regulation of gender-based violence from a legal anthropology perspective. She conducted her doctoral dissertation research on intimate partnership violence in Cameroon, with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. As a recipient of the Fox International Fellowship, she conducted archival research on this subject while based at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. She has worked as a Senior Program Officer at Equality Now’s Nairobi Office and as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Gender and Social Development at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. She is currently a consultant at Equality Now, where she is responsible for managing the campaign of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) and supporting Equality Now’s Discrimination in Law program. She received her doctorate in anthropology from Yale University (USA) in 2010 and a Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College (USA).

Debra J. Liebowitz (USA)

Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Drew University,New Jersey, USA

Debra Liebowitz has worked for the past ten years doing gender and human rights related-training and research at the United Nations. In this capacity she has trained women’s rights activists from more than 60 countries on how to use the UN’s human rights system to advocate for political change at home.  She has worked closely with and is a member of IWRAW Asia Pacific’s International Program Management Team. In 2007 she was the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio Study and Conference Center Grant to launch a project involving people from 17 countries on the domestic implementation of international women’s human rights norms. She is currently working on a book entitled Raising up the Roof: Activists Construct Women’s Human Rights Using CEDAW. In addition, Debra the author of a report (Respect, Protect, Fulfill: Raising the Bar on Women’s Rights in San Francisco) evaluating the city of San Francisco’s efforts to implement their local women’s human rights ordinance and has published articles in journals like the Feminist International Journal of Politics, Women’s Studies Quarterly and Politics and Gender (forthcoming), and in books like Global Governance: Feminist Perspectives, (2008) edited by Shirin M. Rai and Georgina Waylen.  In 2008-9, Debra was the President of the Women & Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association.  She is currently on the board of the New York City Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project and serves on the State and Local Implementation Subcommittee of the Human Rights at Home (HuRAH) Campaign.

Madhu Mehra (India)

Executive Director, Partners for Law in Development (PLD)

Madhu Mehra (India) is a feminist lawyer, a founding member and Executive Director of Partners for Law in Development (PLD), a legal resource group working in the fields of social justice and women’s rights in India. She works primarily in India, South Asia and the Asia Pacific, in programming, training, research, and policy advocacy; engaging as well with the international human rights system. Her fields of expertise are: CEDAW and international human rights law; feminist and critical legal perspectives in law and rights based programming; Her work in respect of women’s rights has been intersectional, taking into account the impact of class, poverty/ development, ethnic, caste, cultural identity politics and sexuality, and has published on these themes. Her regional engagements are through the Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW-AP). She undertook the review of 15 years of the mandate of the of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.

Sally Engle Merry (USA)

Professor of Anthropology, Law and Society, New York University

A distinguished writer, lecturer, and researcher of women’s human rights, vernacularization, and numerical rankings in global governance, Sally is the current president-elect of the American Ethnological Society, a board member of the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology, and a recipient of both the President’s Award of the American Anthropological Association and the J.I. Staley Prize of the School of Advanced Research for her 2006 book, Human Rights and Gender Violence.  She recently authored another book, Gender Violence: A Cultural Perspective (2009), and justfinished a three-year term chairing the AAA Executive Board’s Committee on Scientific Communication.

Alda Facio Montejo (Costa Rica)

Director, Women, Gender and Justice Program, United Nations Latin American Institute for Crime Prevention (ILANUD)

Alda is a jurist, writer, lecturer, and international expert on women’s human rights, gender violence, and gender-based legal analysis.  She is also the founder and first director of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court and co-founder of the Women Human Rights Education Institute at the University of Toronto.  Her work at ILANUD focuses on the elimination of gender inequality and violence against women from a criminal and human rights perspective; research on the different forms of discrimination against women in laws and legal doctrines; and training programs for judges, police, lawyers and women’s groups about the incorporation of gender-sensitive perspective in legal analysis and contexts.

Hanan Abou Ghoush Muaddi (Palestine)

Director of Advocacy and Documentation, Women Center for Legal Aid and Counseling

Hanan has worked with the Women Center for Legal Aid and Counseling since 2004.  As its current director of advocacy and documentation, she supervises and monitors the department and evaluates its programs, and represents the department at the administrative committee.  Previously, she has been coordinator of the Union of Health Work in the Ramallah District for the Women’s Health Program, and before that she worked as a nurse.  Today, she researches and lectures around the world on the situation of Palestinian women, specifically in terms of gender equality gaps, gender-based violence, women’s rights, and women in decision-making positions in the European Commission.

Vrinda Narain (Canada)

Assistant Professor, McGill University, Canada

Vrinda Narain is an Assistant Professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Faculty of Law and the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies (IGSF). Vrinda Narain teaches constitutional law in the Faculty of Law and is the Chair of the Women’s Studies Programme at the IGSF. She is the author of two books, Reclaiming the Nation: Muslim Women and the Law in India (University of Toronto Press, 2008) and Gender and Community: Muslim Women’s Rights in India (University of Toronto Press, 2001).

Maria Nassalli (Uganda)

Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Uganda

Ann Marie Nassali holds a Doctor Legum in Human Rights from the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She has a Master in Law and Development from the University of Warwick, UK, majoring in development, human rights and gender.  Maria mergers both academic competence with pragmatism of the NGO sector given current employment at the Chief Executive Officer of FIDA-U: The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers. She has a proven track record of resuscitating organizations for strategic focus, as has been the case with Law Development Centre, Legal Aid Clinic, Kituo Cha Katiba, East African Law Society and currently with FIDA-Uganda She has served as a Chairpersons of FIDA-Uganda, Parents Teachers Association for the Uganda School of the Deaf and Advisory Council to the USAID Great Horn of Africa Initiative, as well as a board member of many organizations, including East Africa Law Society and Urgent Action Fund-Africa.

Puja Kapai Paryani (Hong Kong)

Assistant Professor of Law and Deputy Director and Fellow of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Faculty of the Law, University of Hong Kong

Puja Kapai is a Co-Convener of the Emerging Strategic Research Theme on Diversity Studies at the University of Hong Kong.  Her research expertise lies in international human rights law and political theory. She is currently engaged in a territory-wide research study funded by the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF Children’s Rights Education in Hong Kong and a large-scale research project on comparative legal transplantation as well as a comparative study of the equal protection of minority women victims of domestic violence in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Her writing spans a broad range of subjects including equality and non-discrimination, minority rights, identity politics, theories of justice, deliberative democracy and civic participation, domestic violence, comparative law and legal transplants involving the law of domestic violence and the doctrine of undue influence in contract law. Puja has been a consultant to various non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations and recipient of various fellowships.

Geeta Ramaseshan (India)

Constitutional, Family, and Criminal Lawyer; Special Prosecutor, Central Bureau of Investigation

Geeta is a lawyer practising in India in the area of Constitutional law, criminal law and family law. She is also a Family, and Criminal Lawyer; Special Prosecutor, Central Bureau of Investigation. She has worked extensively in the area of human rights, women’s human rights, and child’s rights. She works pro bono for women living with HIV/AIDS, survivors of custodial violence, women and children who are survivors of sexual violence and minority groups that face discrimination. She is a special prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation. She has been a Heinz Fellow on comparative law, from the University of Pittsburgh and an Eisenhower fellow on Human rights, public Interest Litigation and Justice. Geeta has conducted many workshops for judges, lawyers and NGO’s in the region on International Human Rights treaties and is a resource person for IWRAW ASIA PACIFIC. She has written extensively in newspapers and journals on legal issues affecting women and is associated with many national campaigns on legislations relating to women and children. She is currently a guest faculty at the Asian College of Journalism where she teaches media law.

Zoya Jureidini Rouhana (Lebanon)

Director, KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation

Zoya is founding member and director of KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation, Beirut, Lebanon. She is also the founding member and General Coordinator of the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence against Women (LECORVAW) / founded in March 1997; founding member and General Coordinator of the Arab Women’s Court – an Arab network to resist violence against women. Zoya is responsible for organizing the first public hearing on violence against women in the Arab world named: Arab Women’s Court, as a preparatory activity for Beijing Conference; she is Secretary of Women Affairs at the Secours Populaire Libanais; member of the executive committee of League of Lebanese Women’s Rights; and social and economic research assistant at the Consultation & Research Institute.

Kathleen Staudt (USA)

Professor of Political Science, University of Texas, El Paso

Kathleen (Kathy) Staudt, PhD (University of Wisconsin, 1976) is Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso, located at the U.S.-Mexico border.  In 2008-9, she was Investigadora Visitante at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  Kathy teaches courses on public policy, democracy, borders, and women, power and politics.  She has published many articles, chapters, and books, the most recent of which include Violence and Activism at the Border: Gender, Fear and Everyday Life in Ciudad Juárez (Austin: University of Texas Press 2008), Human Rights Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Gendered Violence and Insecurity, with Tony Payan and Z. Anthony Kruszewski, and Cities and Citizenship at the U.S.-Mexico Border: The Paso del Norte Metropolitan Region, with César Fuentes and Julia Monarrez Fragoso.  Kathy is actively engaged in community organizations, including cross-border NGOs.

Karen Stefiszyn (South Africa)

Programme Manager, Gender Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Karen Stefiszyn is the Programme Manager of the Gender Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.  Her work involves research and writing, human rights education, and advocacy with a focus on women’s human rights in Africa, and in particular, the implementation of regional and international instruments for the promotion and protection of women’s rights.  Much of her research has explored the violations of women’s rights in Africa in the context of the HIV pandemic with a particular focus on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women living with HIV.  Karen has also worked as a Human Rights Specialist at UNIFEM in New York and has undertaken projects as a consultant for the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and UN Women. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, and a M.St. in international human rights law from the University of Oxford in the UK.

Genoveva Spassova Tisheva (Bulgaria)

Director, Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation; Women’ s Human Rights Training Institute

Genoveva currently coordinates the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation’s legal projects and research.  She has drafted gender equality legislation in Bulgaria, reports on the government’s gender policies and human socio-economic rights, alternative reports to UN bodies, and Bulgaria reports to the Social Watch Coalition.  Her work focuses on gender-based employment discrimination, violence against women, and reproductive rights.  She has directed the Bulgarian Centre for Human Rights and has acted as legal advisor to Machinoexport Ltd., member of the Network of Independent Legal Experts on Gender Equality to the European Commission, and regional coordinator of the Balkan Human Rights Network’ sex traffic prevention research.

Vivienne Wee (Singapore)

Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE), Hong Kong

Vivienne Wee is an anthropologist who has done extensive research on issues of gender, power, religion, and ethno-nationalism, especially in Indonesia. She taught at the National University of Singapore (1984-1994), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2000) and City University of Hong Kong (2000-2010). In Singapore, she is a founding member of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) and was Executive Director of the Centre for Environment, Gender and Development (ENGENDER) in 1994-1999. She has co-initiated multi-country programmes, notably as Director of the Research Programme Consortium on Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Contexts (2006-9), funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development, as well as the programme Women Reclaiming and Re-defining Culture, supported by the MDG3 Fund of the Dutch Government and jointly coordinated by Women Living Under Muslim Laws and the Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE). She is currently a researcher at IWE and Visiting Scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Gender Research Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies).