Press release: As global mobilization intensifies on women’s rights, UN’s largest meeting on gender equality begins

Spotlight on rural women and girls during the Commission on the Status of Women, focus on critical issues such as ensuring adequate living standards, food and nutrition security, access to land, technology, education, health, and ending all forms of violence and harmful practices


Activists Tarcila Rivera Zea from, Peru and  Purity Soinato Oiyie, from Kenya at theopening plenary of the 62nd session of the  UN Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Activists Tarcila Rivera Zea from, Peru and Purity Soinato Oiyie, from Kenya at the opening of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Media Contacts:
Oisika Chakrabarti, Ph: +1 646 781-4522; Email: oisika.chakrabarti[at]
Sharon Grobeisen, Ph: +1 646 781-4753; Email: sharon.grobeisen[at]
Maria Sanchez, Ph: +1 646 781-4507, Email: maria.sanchez[at]
Zina Alam, Ph: +1 646-781-4783; Email: zina.alam[at] 

(New York, 9 March) - Against the backdrop of unprecedented global efforts for women’s rights and gender equality, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is set to begin next week at the UN Headquarters in New York. This is the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights, and the single largest forum for UN Member States, civil society organizations and other international actors to build consensus and commitment on policy actions on this issue. The forthcoming 62nd session of the Commission from 12- 23 March will focus on the priority theme of “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

In the last year, global movements for gender equality-- from marches to powerful grassroots organizing and viral social media campaigns, such asto #MeToo and #TimesUp in the United States of America and their counterparts in other countries-- have galvanized world attention and captured the headlines. Efforts by rural women and their associations however have persisted away from the spotlight, despite efforts to mobilize, disrupt the status quo, and bring actionable change.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: “At the heart of leaving no one behind, is leaving no one out. One of the single most impactful contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda would be to level inequalities for women and girls in rural areas. Significant progress for them is progress for the whole Agenda, and for the world.”

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka delivers opening remarks. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka delivers opening remarks. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Rural women and their organizations represent an enormous potential. Given their roles in food production, processing and distribution, for example, rural women are essential to ensuring global food security. As primary energy managers in households, they can lead the way in transitioning to sustainable energy. And evidence shows that their leadership in the management of natural resources can lead to better outcomes in terms of governance, preservation and regeneration of land and forests.

Yet, on almost every measure of development rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women, due to deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination. Gender and geographic inequalities mean rural women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty and have unequal access to land and natural resources, infrastructure and services, and decent work and social protection. They are also more vulnerable to the adverse impact of environmental and climate change.

  • Multiple barriers trap too many rural women in low-quality, poorly paid work. The pay gap between rural men and women doing the same work can be as high as 40 per cent.
  • Agricultural work remains a significant source of livelihood for rural women. Yet, less than 20 per cent of landholders worldwide are women, according to the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database.
  • In nearly two thirds of countries, women are more likely than men to report food insecurity according to the UN Women report “Turning Promises into Action”. Not only are more women hungry, but more women in rural areas suffer poor nutrition that results in anemia, a leading cause of maternal death.
  • Infrastructure and technology typically reach rural women last, leaving them ever further behind. In 80 per cent of water-deprived households, women and girls are primarily responsible for daily water collection.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the opening of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the opening of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

The 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) will deliberate on the key issues that significantly impact gender equality and the empowerment of all rural women and girls. These will range from how to ensure their adequate living standards with increased access to land and productive assets, decent work, infrastructure and technology, education and health, including their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and ending all forms of violence and harmful practices. The forum will be an opportunity to provide concrete suggestions on how to empower rural women and girls, making the promise of “leaving no one behind” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality.

The review theme of this CSW62 is Women in the Media, bringing timely discussions on women’s participation in and access to the media, as well as to information and communications technologies. Sexual harassment at the workplace and online, lack of representation, gender pay gap and many other current issues are expected to come up in the discussions and side events.

The extraordinary global mobilization for gender equality witnessed over the last year is clear as more than 8000 representatives from 1121 civil society organizations have registered to attend this year's CSW. Along with the 18 official meetings that include Ministerial Round Tables, high-level interactive events and expert panels, over 280 side events hosted by Member States and UN Agencies, and 440 parallel events hosted by civil society organizations are scheduled to take place.

Geraldine Byrne Nason, chair of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women speaks at the opening of CSW62 . Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Geraldine Byrne Nason, chair of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women speaks at the opening of CSW62 . Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Ahead of CSW62, UN Women together with partners, organized regional consultations with Ministers, gender equality authorities and civil society organizations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific , and Arab States to help build consensus and set priorities towards the Commission’s outcome, which will be a set of action-oriented recommendations to accelerate the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all rural women and girls. 




[For press covering IWD and CSW62 events at the UN Secretariat in New York, UN press accreditation is required. More information at:]

  • Opening of the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 12 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., UN General Assembly [Live Webcast]
  • Ending violence against all women and girls, “Leaving no one behind” in the Spotlight Initiative, organized by the European Union and United Nations. It will be attended by the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, among others, and will address upcoming initiatives under this 500 million EUR multi-stakeholder fund. 12 March, 3 - 4.15 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber [Live Webcast]
  • Town Hall Meeting with the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and civil society on the margins of the CSW, 13 March, 1.15 - 2.30 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber [Live Webcast]
  • Voices on Gender Equality from CSW: Civil Society Meets the Press. UN Women hosted event where s grassroots activists and women’s rights advocates from all parts of the world gather to tell their experiences from the ground with interested journalists. [Bios of attendees below]. 14 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., UN Women HQ, 18th Floor, The Daily News Building, 220 East 42nd St, New York.
  • Recently appointed UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador Jaha Dukureh will be present at two events focusing on ending child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM):
    • “It’s Time! A Collaboration to End Child Early and Forced Marriage and FGM”, 14 March, 12.30 - 2  p.m., Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York
    • Harmful practices event at the 62nd session of CSW: Accelerating efforts to eliminate FGM and early and forced child marriage in Africa by 2030. 14 March, 8.00 - 9.30 a.m., ECOSOC chamber [Live Webcast]
  • Leaving No One Behind for Planet 50/50 by 2030: Every Rural Woman and Girl Everywhere. This event will convene civil society, rural women leaders and activists and rural leaders along with other stakeholders, to discuss standards necessary in Leaving No One Behind, and what this means for rural women and girls, with all the intersectional complexities. 15 March, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., for venue information, please contact
  • #MeToo, Now What? Women in the Media - From Outcry to Action, organized by the Mission of Norway, The Guardian and UN Women. With a keynote speech by actress and entrepreneur Sienna Miller, this event will aim to seize the global momentum and public outcry against gender discrimination in the media and move to action. Concrete solutions through the experiences of well-known journalists from the global North and South will be showcased. 16 March, 11.30 a.m. - 12.45 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber [Live Webcast] Link to Flyer
  • CSW Youth Dialogue, organized by the Youth Dialogue Task Force and UN Women. The Youth Dialogue will be a space for young rural women and girls to discuss how they can thrive as leaders and be supported to overcome the structural barriers they face, and identify what policies and practices are required to tackle them. Discussion will also focus on participation and access of young women and girls to media and information and communications technologies. 17 March, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., for venue information, please contact
  • System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity: How to Walk the Talk. Join us for a discussion on how to reach gender parity in the UN System by 2028! The UN Secretary-General has promised to deliver on this goal, but what are the roles of the UN, the Member States and Civil Society in the process? How can we promote an inclusive and diverse working environment across the UN System, and what measures are necessary to reach parity? 19 March, 11.30 a.m. - 12.45 p.m., Conference Room 12 [Live Webcast]
  • Photo Exhibition: Rural Women, Human Rights, organized by UN Women. From 8 March – 18 April, Visitors’ Lobby at the United Nations Headquarters
  • Photo Exhibition: We Are Turning Promises into Action: It’s Time, organized by UN Women. 12 – 23 March at the 1B neck area near Vienna Cafe


Media Opportunities: Along with UN Women officials, grassroots activists and women’s rights advocates are available for interviews. Bios below. Please contact media contacts listed for details.

Related links:

Events at the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 12–23 March 2018

Official meetings of the Commission are listed here:

Live webcasts:; and

Key Official Meetings:

  • Opening of the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, 12 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., UN General Assembly [Live Webcast]
  • Ministerial Segment: 4 Ministerial Round Tables on the priority theme: Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls (in two parallel meetings), 12 March, Topic A: Good practices in the empowerment of rural women and girls, including through access to education, infrastructure and technology, food security and nutrition, MRT 1: 3 - 4.30 p.m.; Conference Room 4, MRT 2: 4.30 - 6 p.m.; Conference Room 4; Topic B: Good practices in the empowerment of rural women and girls, including through prevention of gender-based violence and through access to justice, social services and health care, MRT 3, 3 - 4.30 p.m.; Conference Room 1; MRT 4, 4.30 - 6 p.m.; Conference Room 1
  • High-level interactive dialogue among Ministers on the priority theme ‘Building alliances to achieve gender equality and empower rural women and girls,’ 13 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Conference Room 4
  • High-level interactive dialogue on ‘Accelerating implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and achieving concrete results by 2020,’ 13 March, 3 - 6 p.m., Conference Room 4
  • Interactive dialogue on ‘Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women,’ 14 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Conference Room 4
  • Interactive dialogue on ‘Participation in and access of women to the media, and information and communications technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women,’ 14 March, 3 - 6 p.m., Conference Room 4
  • Interactive Expert Panel on ‘the role of rural women’s land rights and land tenure security in reaching the SDGs, 16 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Conference Room 4
  • Interactive Expert Panel on ‘innovative data approaches for measuring progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment,’ 16 March, 3 - 6 p.m., Conference Room 4

Entire list of official events available at:

All the above will also be webcast live at:; and

UN Women organized/co-sponsored events:

  • Unity in Diversity—an evening of art of hope with Nigerian women, organized by Mission of Nigeria, UN Women and partners, 11 March, 6 – 8 p.m., General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters
  • What Will it Take to Make the 2030 Agenda Work for Women and Girls?, organized by the Mission of Germany, UN Women, and Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), 12 March, 1 - 3 p.m., Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York
  • Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Rural Women, organized by UN Women and IMF, 12 March, 6.30 - 7.45 p.m., Conference Room 11
  • Delivering as One: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with and for Rural Women and Girls, organized by UN Women and Rome-based agencies (WFP, FAO, IFAD), 13 March, 10 - 11.15 a.m., Conference Room 1 [Live Webcast]
  • Mobilizing Public and Private Investments in the LDCs for Women's Economic Empowerment, organized by the Mission of Switzerland, SIDA, UNCDF, UNDP and UN Women, 13 March, 1.15 - 2.30 p.m., Conference Room 8
  • A Holistic, Integrated Approach to Accelerate Rural Women's Empowerment: JPRWEE Case, organized by Niger, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP), and UN Women, 13 March, 4.45 - 6 p.m., Ex-press Bar, GA Building
  • High Level Side Event: Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage in Africa by 2030, organized by the Missions of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Italy, Uganda, Zambia and with support from UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women, 14 March, 8:00 - 9:30 a.m., ECOSOC Chamber [Live Webcast]
  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Capacity-Building and Economic Empowerment of Women Farmers, organized by the Missions of Mali, Malawi, and Luxembourg as well as UN Women, 14 March, 4.45 - 6 p.m., Conference Room 11 [Live Webcast] Link to Flyer
  • High-level Side Event with Member States on the Joint Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence, organized by UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with WHO, UNODC and UNDP, 14 March, 6 - 7.30 p.m., Madison Ballroom, Westin Hotel, 212 East 42nd Street, New York
  • High-Level event on Advancing Gender Equality in Nationality Laws, organized by the Missions of Australia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sierra Leone, the Office of the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), UN Women, UNHCR, UNICEF, Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, 14 March, 6.30 - 7.45 p.m., Express Bar - GA Building Link to Flyer
  • Racing Towards Gender Equality: The media’s portrayal of women athletes and its effects on women’s participation in sports, organized by the International Olympic Committee, UN Women, UNESCO, Procter & Gamble, and NBC, 14 March, 6.30 - 8.30 p.m., The Diplomat Ballroom, The Millennium Hilton New York, One United Nations Plaza, New York
  • High-Level Side Event: African Women’s Decade: Stepping Up Action for & with Rural Women to 2020, organized by the African Union, OSAA, and UN Women, 15 March, 10 - 11.15 a.m., Ex-Press Bar - GA Building
  • Applying CEDAW General Recommendation 37 on Gender-Related Dimensions of Disaster Risk Reduction in the Context of Climate Change, organized by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Women, and the Mission of Fiji, 15 March, 3 - 4.15 p.m., Ex-Press Bar - GA Building
  • Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Forum, organized by UN Women, UN Global Compact and UN Office for Partnerships, 15 March, 3 - 6 p.m., ECOSOC Chamber Link to Flyer
  • Screening of film “Jaha’s Promise”, organized by the Abyssinian Baptist Church and UN Women, 15 March, 6.30 - 8.30 p.m., 132 W 138th St, New York
  • Harnessing ‘Citizen Generated Data’ for Effective Monitoring and Reporting of the SDG Goal 5 and Other Gender-Related SDGs Indicators: Challenges and Opportunities, organized by UN Women and the Missions of Uganda, Ethiopia and the SDG Center for Africa, 19 March, 3 - 4.15 p.m., Conference Room 11 [Live Webcast]
  • Empowering Women across the Humanitarian Development Nexus, 20 March, 11.30 a.m. - 12.45 p.m., Conference Room 11 [Live Webcast]
  • Towards a Gender-Responsive Global Compact for Migration, organized by UN Women, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Women in Migration Network (WIMN), the Missions of Canada and Costa Rica, 21 March, 11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., Conference Room 12 [Live Webcast]
  • Launch of the Practitioner's Toolkit on Women's Access to Justice Programming, organized by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 22 March, 10 - 11.15 a.m., Conference Room D


Entire list of all official side events during CSW62:

NGO-organized parallel events:

The following gender equality advocates are available for media interviews:

Many of them will also be present at the UN Women media event, Voices on Gender Equality from CSW: Civil Society meets the Press, Wednesday, 14 March, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., UN Women HQ, Daily News Building, 220 East 42nd Street, 18th floor – Room 18-81


Yuan Feng, from China, is a co-founder of Equality, a Beijing NGO dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality. Since the mid-1990s, she has also been a founding member, coordinator, chair-person, and board member of countrywide organizations, such as the Gender and Development Network in China, Anti Domestic Violence Network, Women’s Network Against Aids/China, and Media Monitor for Women Network. She speaks English and Chinese.

Sepali Kottegoda, from Sri Lanka, is an academic, women’s rights activist and Technical Advisor on Women’s Economic Rights and Media at the Women and Media Collective. She was the Chair of Asia Pacific Women’s Watch from 2008 to 2012. Her research revolves around women in the informal sector, women’s unpaid care work, women migrant workers, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, gender in disasters, as well as women in the media and in politics. She is a member of the Sri Lanka National Committee on Women, the Executive Board of South Asia Women’s Fund, the Council of the Social Scientists’ Association, Sri Lanka, and the Sub-Committee on Migration of the Human Rights Commission, Sri Lanka. She was also a member of the Sri Lanka Task on Prevention of Violence Against Women. She speaks English.

Helda Khasmy, from Indonesia, is engaged in gender, community, and development issues as well as movement building through her work at several organizations. She specializes in advocacy cases, mine evictions, and peasants. She has also served as a consultant for gender mainstreaming and sustainable development in various organizations. She was elected Chair of SERUNI, an organization concerned with gender equality in indigenous, labour, youth, and the migrant sector, during its first conference. She additionally is a member of IWA Executive Committee.

Maria Leyesa, from Philippines, has been a rural women’s rights advocate for over 15 years. She currently works as the Rural Women Coordinator for Philippine Peasant Institute, Convention Leader for the 1st National Rural Women Congress, and the Secretary General of National Rural Women Coalition. She implemented policy that covered the recognition of indigenous women in peace processes. She is also involved in Self-Help Group Approach, an organization assisting the most poor and rural women, and Kindernothilfe, a child-focused organization.

Wekoweu (Akole) Tsuha, from India, works at the North East Network (NEN), a women’s rights organization, where she engages with issues of rural women and girls in Nagaland. At NEN, she works towards the advancement of rural women’s rights through organizing, awareness raising, capacity building, and networking with the local councils and the government. NEN works with rural women from across tribes, age groups, and social backgrounds. Among others, some issues NEN addresses in their work includes the recognition of women farmers, artisans and vendors, ending violence against women within and outside homes, strengthening women’s collective leadership and action, and securing their rights and entitlements including resource rights. She speaks English.

Nandini Chami, from India, works on policy research and advocacy at the intersection of ICTs, gender equality, and development, at IT for Change. She was part of the IT for Change team that developed a toolkit on mainstreaming gender in e-government ecosystems for policymakers in the Asia-Pacific, with support from UNPOG and UNESCAP, based on the systematic research of e-government systems of seven countries in the region. This toolkit is being launched at CSW 62 at an event on 16 March. Further, she co-authored a research study that analyzed Digital India through a gender perspective. She is also a part of a team that is engaged in a 2-country policy research study on strengthening legal-institutional response mechanisms to online gender-based violence in South Asia. She further has supported the organization’s advocacy efforts around Goal 5b of the SDGs and contributed to data for development debates from a gender perspective. She also supports a field centre, Prakriye, in Mysore in its training programmes for women’s rights groups on adopting digital tools in their field practice, and critical ‘education for empowerment’ for rural adolescent girls. She speaks English.

Rukmini Rao, from India, has worked towards promoting the rights of women and girls, addressing the issues of land rights, right to property, right to education, and the prevention of violence against women and girls, including prevention of gender biased sex selection and infanticide. Rao, with the Gramya Resource Centre for Women, is working to promote the recognition of rights of single women and advocating livelihood rights with national and state governments. Additionally, they also work to promote farmer rights, with a focus on fair prices as well as support for sustainable ecological practices. They also engage with young men and boys to reflect on masculinities and gender equality, leading to social norm change. She speaks English, Hindi, and Telugu.

Sejal Dand, from India, works with the organization ANANDI. ANANDI’s field programmes in Gujarat have organised women farmers, migrant labour, fishers from marginalized Dalit, as well as tribal and Muslim communities in Gujarat. ANANDI addresses the intersectionality of women’s identities – caste, economic status, marital status, age and health, and has concentrated within Dalit, tribal and NT DNT women to focus on single women. The organization has now started to organize young women and adolescent girls. They recognize the intrinsic interconnectedness between women’s economic rights with socio cultural political rights, which leads them to organize rural women on all issues related to their right to work, food, health, political participation, violence free lives, and resource rights by building and strengthening agency of women’s collectives. ANANDI’s grassroots organization over the last two decades has also made space for rural women to engage with national campaigns and legislations to mainstream women’s rights in the Right to Food, Right to Work, Right to Health and Right to Bodily integrity. She speaks English and several other Indian languages.

Sohini Shoaib, from India, works with The Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, which is a non-party political union of landless rural workers, marginal farmers, and youth. It operates out of six districts of Bihar currently. As a union of the rural informal sector workers, in an economy shaped by glaring socio-economic inequalities and season outmigration of the male workforce, most of their membership consists of women from oppressed castes and classes. Over the past few years they have also started engaging with the rural youth (with a special emphasis on Dalits, women, those of diverse religious or gender-sexuality identities, persons with disability etc.) to help build organic second-generation leadership in the community. As a full-time worker of the Union, Sohini’s work includes supporting mobilization of landless labourers and marginal farmers - especially those from oppressed castes, genders, and communities to fight for their rights and entitlements. Her work also includes supporting national rights-based campaigns like the Right to Food Campaign and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. She speaks English and Hindi.


Angelina Francis, from Kenya, is working with a movement of 3,500 grassroots women-led community groups at the very local level in the semi-arid of Kitui and across several counties in Kenya. She is a national policy advocate who has strongly advocated for securing equal rights to matrimonial properties for women and men in Kenya through joint registration and equal opportunities to access government procurements for rural women and girls. She is a seasoned agri-business farmer, and advocates for other women and men in the community to overcome gender barriers in the agricultural sectors. Through this initiative she has emerged as a grassroots women's leader and entrepreneur.

Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo, from Cameroon, is a feminist and young woman activist working and living in a rural area. Through the e-platform <<UN4U>>, she successfully reached out to over 10,000 young people, women, and girls particularly from grassroots communities across the country. She encourages them to add their voice to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) discussion to inform the UNDAF 2018-2020 program of action. This January 2018, in collaboration with FEMNET and UN WOMEN, Zoneziwoh is leading a national advocacy and awareness raising campaign, which seeks to work with rural women and girls to ensure that they are actively involved in defining Cameroon’s priorities for the CSW62. She also convened the national rural women’s assembly. She speaks English.

Mireille Tushiminina, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is an activist working with rural women in central Africa. She runs the Shalupe Foundation, a high-impact ONG/Development, with the core mission of bringing peace, prosperity, and security to women and young girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mireille is passionate about generating female empowerment for African women through socio-economic development, sustainable programs that alleviate poverty, advocacy, encouragement of collective social entrepreneurship, and health agendas with a more sustainable and entrepreneurial approach. She speaks English and French.

Wezie Nyirongo, from Malawi, is an Editor at Capital FM Radio, also heading a gender desk. She has worked in three different media houses in reporting and editorial positions. She is also a Gender Champion for Capital FM radio. Her role entails overseeing issues related to women’s rights in programming and gender mainstreaming in the workplace. In the course of her work, she has so far won three awards on reporting Gender Violence and Promoting Women’s Rights, awarded by the GenderLinks of South Africa and Women’s Legal Rights and Resource Centre. Her work has also earned Capital FM Radio recognition as the 2014 Gender Links Media House of Excellence on Reporting Gender Violence and Promoting Women’s Rights. During the last elections in Malawi, she was elected the Vice Chairperson of the National Media Taskforce for the 50-50 campaign on increasing women in Parliament and Local Councils. She speaks English.

Alice Lesepen is of the Rendille peoples of Marsabit County in Kenya. The Rendille is one of the Minority Indigenous Communities scattered in one of the biggest County’s in Kenya. After high school, she became involved in community, social, and development work as a volunteer. Her main objective was to promote women’s empowerment and the rights of indigenous women and girls by advocating for the indigenous people’s rights to their lands and territories, as well as the respect of indigenous women and girls’ rights. She also represents other organizations on  grassroots, national, regional, and international levels. She speaks Kiswahili, English, Rendile and Samburu.


Indira Vargas, from Ecuador, is currently a student at the Universidad Estatal Amazónica, where she is pursuing a degree in Engineering of Tourism. She is also heavily involved in the Ecuador Indigenous Movement. She is further involved in the following organizations: Youth Organization of the Amazon Region (OJCA), Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuatorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), Confederation of Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Commission for Children and Youth of the Indigenous Women's Continental Liaison of the Americas (ECMIA). She works to position and advocate for youth and indigenous women in defense of ancestral territories and knowledge against the threats of a mercantilist and consumerist system.

Nereide Segala Coelho, from Brazil, advocates for better agricultural practices and sustainable agriculture in her community, which is highly affected by drought conditions due to climate change. She is the leader of Natural Step Fund, which is a science-based organization to inspire young children (boys and girls) to understand food production, processing, and finally consumption. Through developing this link with food, Nereide hopes to increase young people's awareness of the issues confronting her community. She speaks Portuguese.

Silene Salazar, from Bolivia, is a Quechua woman, human rights advocate, and LGBT activist who is passionate about social justice. In 2008, Silene co-founded the Network of Lesbian and Bisexual Women of Bolivia, which is meant to increase the visibility of and bring the voices of lesbian and bisexual women to policy spaces. Through the network, Silene has expanded to LGBT groups in rural communities, highlighting the intersectional discrimination that indigenous, lesbian, and bisexual young women live under throughout Bolivia, including gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, and racism. She speaks Spanish and English.

Edilia Mendoza, from Colombia, participated in the coordination of the construction of several spaces such as Vía campesina, Acción global de los Pueblos- AGP, and the Coordinator of CLOC field organizations, from where she helped give guidelines to governments in Latin America. She has constructed agrarian laws, written articles, and given lectures at the national, regional, and international level. Among her achievements is the construction of agricultural and ecological universities in other countries within the framework of Via Campesina and in alliance with progressive governments in the region. Edilia is part of the Special Instance that will focus on monitoring the approach and guaranteeing women's rights in the implementation of the Final Agreement of Colombia. She speaks Spanish.

Otilia Lux, from Guatemala, is a Mayan-Quiché educator and politician. A human rights and women’s rights activist, she is considered one of the most important figures in Latin America in the political sphere and civil movement. From 2000 to 2004, she was Minister of Culture and Sports of Guatemala during the period of government under President Alfonso Portillo. She was also a member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations from 2002 to 2004. She has been deputy to the Congress of the Republic for WINAQ and a representative of Guatemala before the Executive Board of UNESCO. She was the Executive Director of the International Forum of Indigenous Women and an indigenous expert of the Permanent Forum of the Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations. She speaks Spanish and Mayan.

María Margarita Guillé Tamayo, from Mexico, is a social activist and founder of the Inter-American Shelter Network. In 2016, she was honored with the Pro Homine Award granted by the State Human Rights Commission of Aguascalientes for her work in the struggle for the rights of women and children. She speaks Spanish.

Clyde Soto, from Paraguay, is a feminist, psychologist, and defender of human rights. She is a social researcher at the Documentation and Studies Center (CDE), an autonomous social science organization in Paraguay, where she currently coordinates the Women's Area and the project "Empowering women to increase their political power and overcome economic inequalities in Paraguay," which has the support of the UN Women's Gender Equality Fund (FIG). She has developed research and published works on women's political participation, women's history, sexual and reproductive rights, domestic work, migrant care and corridors, among other topics. She integrates the regional coordination of the Feminist Articulation Marcosur (AFM) and is an activist of the Coordination of Women of Paraguay (CMP). She speaks Spanish.


Marija Andjelkovic, from Serbia, is Director and founder of the Serbian NGO, ASTRA-Anti trafficking action. She is a lawyer by profession with more than 20 years of experience in combating gender-based violence. She is also one of the first civil society activists to raise the issue of human trafficking in the Balkan region. She has experience in direct victims’ assistance to more than 400 victims. As a trainer and lecturer in Serbia and abroad, she also has experience in prevention and education activities, sharing her anti-trafficking expertise with professionals from governmental institutions and NGOs. She is an author of numerous publications, manual, articles, and shadow reports on human trafficking. Her work has influenced the shaping and delivering of policy and practice across the region.


Nehad Abo El-Komsan, from Egypt, is an award-winning lawyer and expert in human rights and women’s rights. She is the co-founder and chairwoman of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and has supported the establishment of many civil society organizations. She also works to amplify Egyptian and Arab women’s voices to the international community and actively empowers women’s participation as effective decision