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Les Simm founded the International Forum for Understanding and serves as its Executive Director. Les works in the business sector, with governments, the UN, INGO’s and other entities in areas ranging from security risk management and business resilience to humanitarian operations and disaster relief. He has expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and verification, security sector reform and countering transnational organised crime. Having trained as a psychiatric nurse in his early career, Les has long-term interest in mental health and wellbeing. Les is a passionate supporter of the SDGs with a particular focus on project implementation and making a demonstrable and direct impact on people’s lives.
Heather Wokusch is the Director of Development for the International Forum for Understanding and the Executive Director of its SDG2030.me and MESPERO: Impact for Resilience projects. Her career in organizational development, human resources, education, cross-culture, and media has spanned five continents and multiple fields. After completing an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology in her native USA, Heather carried out development work in the Philippines, then spent decades in Japan and Europe consulting academic institutions and international business groups. A firm believer in Impact Tech and the democratization of knowledge, she is an expert in virtual learning. Heather also provides consultation on topics connected to organizational development (including digital transformation, leadership development, employee engagement, change management, strategy, and globalization).
Through her scientific study, artistic work, and academic training in public policy, Nour Barakeh strives to understand society from different viewpoints and to communicate complex topics. Her M.A. in Public Administration from Central European University emphasized the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) and environmental policies to mitigate climate change. Developing migration policies and combating human trafficking are also in scope.
With experience ranging from dance and theater to social work and journalism, she aims to support the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people through raising awareness, and to counsel governments, NGOs and corporations on policies with a specific focus on the Sustainable Developments Goals. As a Global Citizen, she believes in proactively pursuing the necessary goal of peace.
She previously studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus and graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Damascus University. As a sought-after speaker on the SDGs, refugee, and migration issues, she has spoken on numerous high-profile panels highlighting young, female voices such as at European Forum Alpbach alongside former UN SG Ban Ki-moon and former Austrian President Heinz Fischer as well as at a UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development among others. Nour Barakeh is also an Agents of Change Youth Fellow at Wilson Center.
From Uganda, Malaika Oringo is the founder and CEO of Footprint to Freedom, a survivor-led organization that believes the only way to eradicate human trafficking is by giving survivors a voice and the opportunity to lead.
For the past 17 years, Malaika has been intensively involved in the fight against human trafficking, as a representative of the Salvation Army at the EU Affairs Office in Brussels and more recently as a global consultant on anti-human trafficking efforts. She campaigns for victims’ rights and works to strengthen survivor inclusion and engagement in decision-making processes.
Rania Ali is an award winning Syrian filmmaker, public speaker, writer, and human rights and mental health advocate. She is an expert in media and communication strategies, leading projects with NGOs, working with governments advocating for human rights, peace building and mediation, and doing public speaking.
Layla Barakeh is a humanitarian worker and disaster-management specialist based in Syria. She specializes in mental health and psychosocial support and livelihood training.
Layla is the Director of Humanitarian Community Life (HCL), a capacity-building initiative for humanitarian settings in Syria and Yemen. HCL recently rolled out an intensive remote training program (in Arabic) for psychological first aid in disaster and recovery periods.
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Nurat Wamaya is vibrant and passionate activist for gender and human rights. She enjoys social work as she gets to be part of bringing solutions to problems in society. Her desire is to see a world where men and women coexist in peace and harmony without the many inequalities seen in today’s world. She has been involved in a number of child development, child safety and social work volunteer and internships with organisations that have the same goal, vision and mandate.
Nurat has experience in entrepreneurship/business management having run a small business for three years. She also planned and managed various projects in the past as a student at Egerton University ,including a sanitary pads drive with the Egerton University Gender Student’s League, and with SCORA-Kenya, as well as collaboration with GVRC-Kenya to conduct an Anti-Gender Based Violence festival in Nakuru county.
Nurat is a great team player and team leader. Working at Okumu Creative Digital, she was instrumental in the success of a movie production that was awarded ‘Best Short Film’ at 2018 Kalasha Awards.
Nyadoi Philister is a 25-year old Ugandan. Passionate about fighting injustice against women and girls, she opts for a more inclusive community where women and girls are safe, empowered, and economically independent. She is the Regional Coordinator of the Footprint to Freedom Ugandan Chapter. She is working under the general umbrella of Footprint to Freedom’s mission of fighting against human trafficking in East Africa and The Netherlands through survivor empowerment, prevention, education reintegration, and advocacy.
She believes human trafficking is one of the greatest injustices of our time. She is committed to helping end it. As an activist, she uses her academic background in Arts Education and Literature to educate, inspire, and empower survivors and at-risk women and girls, using art and craft for self-expression to promote healing for survivors and learn entrepreneur skills in making bags and shoes for economic independence; as a result, she is contributing to breaking the cycle of vulnerability to human trafficking.
Nyadoi Philister works under the Footprint to Freedom organization that champions fighting human trafficking to its core through survivor leadership, prevention, and education. She has learned that some of the most significant, pervasive problems cannot be quantified because they are rooted so deeply in society’s ignorance about slavery and the lack of alternative options for vulnerable people who risk their lives for jobs and opportunities abroad. Creating employable skills is critical; that is where her focus is.
Fauziah Wanjiru is a survivor, facilitator and human rights activist based in Kenya. Currently, she is working with Footprint to Freedom, a survivor-led organization, as Region Coordinator East Africa. She serves as the main point of contact and subject matter expert on human trafficking, programs, and activities done in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda on behalf of Footprint to Freedom.
As a survivor of labor trafficking in the Middle East and an activist, she stands and speaks up for victims and survivors of human trafficking creating awareness of the exploitative situations many women find themselves in. Her main interest is identifying and solving problems that affect the communities, more specifically survivors and vulnerable children, women and youth primarily in informal settlements.
Her passion for a safe and progressive community has led her to win various accolades including; she-for-he awards at the United Nations Sustainable Goals Development supported by UN Women.
She is industrious, humble, and likes working in groups as she seeks to solve problems. She has gained experience working with the Solidarity Center and Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW).
Her love for reading has made her work on a project dubbed ‘save a woman’. This project seeks to save women from human trafficking, gender-based violence, and early marriage and prevent them from experiencing the situations that constantly endanger their lives as women. It will also educate women on the dangers of out-of-state casual jobs.
Yulia is a queer Muslim woman, writer, community organizer and independent researcher. Her experiences of activism in Indonesia for the past twelve years include women rights, LBTIQ rights, and education for diverse youth on faith and sexuality. She co-founded several organizations or collectives, such as Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS), a youth organization aiming to build peace within diverse faith and sexual identity, in 2010, and Qbukatabu, an Indonesian feminist-queer collective, in 2017. She was also one of co-directors of a collective queer women documentary, Children of Srikandi (2012) and one of the co-authors of an anthology of queer of feminist organisers, Cerita Sehari-Hari Diri dan Semua yang Mengitari (2021).
She completed her MA in Gender, Sexuality and the Body from University of Leeds. In regional context, she is one of the advisory network pools of Urgent Action Fund for the Asia and Pacific and a part-time Coordinator of Peace Brigades International Southeast Asia Project Exploration. Since late 2020, she has started to use digital storytelling to document the lived experiences of herself as queer person and continued to work with other LBTIQ individuals and groups. She is a self-care practitioner through journaling, moving meditation, and experiencing a vegan life.
Nadja Greku is an MA candidate in International Relations at Central European University (CEU) in Vienna, Austria. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. Greku also completed the International Interdisciplinary Romani Studies Postgraduate Specialization Program with distinction at CEU, Budapest, Hungary. Her research focus is broadly on the governmentality and (in)securitization of Roma, as well as on the potential (re)conceptualizations of war as productive from the perspective of identity politics. Her upcoming book chapter for the Roma Civil Monitor studies the governmentality of Roma in and through monitoring of Roma inclusion strategies. She has worked with the Regional Cooperation Council (former Stability Pact) in Sarajevo, while supporting the regional cooperation, European and Euro-Atlantic integration of South-East Europe for over five years. In the last decade, she has also volunteered with various Roma organizations in the Western Balkans. She is the founder of CEU’s Roma Students and Alumni Association and has published op-ed articles addressing anti-gypsyism and police brutality in LeftEast (co-authored with Michal Mižigár) as well as the outlet Portal-Udar.
Afnan Khalid is a Sudanese lawyer and civil society activist. She worked in the humanitarian field supporting refugees and IDPs in Sudan to access information, civil documentation and also social and economic rights. In addition, she worked with Trade Unions and youth resistance committees to boost female participation in the political arena and civic engagement.
Currently, she is doing her Masters of Law at the University of Essex in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Marwan Yaghi is a lawyer and a human rights activist. He used to work at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, based in Palestine, Gaza, as a Bertha Justice Fellow for more than two years, where his main areas of interest included human rights, war crime, torture and arbitrary detention. This led him to launch the “Together against Torture” campaign, to end the systematic use of torture and other abuses related, by the public authorities against detainees and arrestees, through employing international advocacy and pressure tool. Marwan is a Chevening scholar for the year 2021/2022. He is studying International Human Rights (LLM) at Essex University. Currently he is a legal assistant at the Digital Verification Unit at The Human Rights Center Essex University and Amnesty International, conducting investigations into human rights violations around the world, using open-source techniques. Marwan hopes to make valuable contributions in advancing human rights and social justice in the world.
Ana Laura Velázquez Moreno is a Mexican lawyer with more than eight years of experience in gross human rights violations and gender perspective. She has worked in this area from different fields. From civil society, she worked in a NGO as an attorney, legally representing cases of forced disappearance, approaching them from a gender and intersectional perspective. From the public administration, she occupied the position of technical secretary of the Gender Equality Commission of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico, where she worked on bills in favor of women. Additionally, she is a founding member of the Feminist Circle of Legal Analysis, an NGO that seeks to challenge, interpret and apply the law from a feminist perspective. She recently finished her postgraduate studies in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex as a Chevening Scholar.
Originally from Somalia, Suad has also lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks six languages: Somali, Arabic, German, English, Hindi and Urdu.
Suad graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Karachi. She works as a Social Medical Consultant (including psychological counseling) at Diakonie Österreich and as an Assistant Consultant at the Austrian Red Cross. She is a certified counselor regarding female genital mutilation (FGM) issues and is active in related community outreach. SDG 3 is especially important to Suad.
Suad is a sought-after panelist and presenter, known for her storytelling skills in a variety of areas. She has spoken at the United Nations on interreligious topics, contributed to a migration and health panel at European Forum Alpbach, and contributed to high-level events including at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and at an International Peace Day celebration hosted by the Second President of the Austrian Parliament.
Suad aims to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women. She often quotes Oprah Winfrey: ‘You become what you believe.’
Suad is the Founder of the Somalia Health Club which is a space to help the global Somali community meet with Somali health professionals and ask questions regarding medical topics, especially in relation to Covid-19 and vaccines (Instagram).
Advocate Karuna Parajuli is a litigating human rights lawyer of Nepal. She is Legal Advisor to the International Commission of Nepal, South Asia Office, Kathmandu. In this role, Parajuli works closely with Nepalese judiciary and judicial actors that support promoting the independence of the judiciary and legal professionals. Parajuli is currently researching for her M Phil thesis (Nepal Open University) focused on women’s political participation in Nepal. She also completed her LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex, UK. Parajuli envisions strengthening access to justice for the economically underprivileged people in Nepal. She is a member of the High Court Bar, Association, Patan, Lalitpur.
Joyce Nawiri is a bisexual Kenyan feminist writer and lawyer who examines feminist themes around misogyny, gender inequality, sexual orientation, racism and fatphobia. She has been widely published by diverse human rights magazines notably Coalition of African Lesbians.
Nawiri has presented on high-profile panels on sexual harassment and law in Africa. Recently she was a panelist on the Unsettling Knowledge Production on Gendered & Sexual Violence Symposium by University of Cape Town. In addition, she has previous working experience organizing and conducting workshops on sexual and reproductive health rights, and legal aid at Shimo la Tewa Women’s Prisons in Mombasa and Eldoret Women’s Maximum Prisons in Eldoret. Her feminist politics are inspired by the late Nawal El Saadawi’s work. When she’s not writing, she continues with her activism on Facebook. She thinks of herself as a dangerous and savage woman.
Jannatul Mouwa is a youth climate activist, UN Women Bangladesh declared her as a climate champion in 2021. Also ActionAid Bangladesh Awarded her Climate Champions in 2021. She got an honorable mention Award on Climate photography 2021 from Drik & British Council. Also she was nominated for the WIN DRR leadership Awards from Australian Aid. She was born in 1991 in Satkhira, which is one of the climate vulnerable districts in Bangladesh. In 2011, she worked to prevent child marriage. In 2014, her Upazilla was declared by the Government as the first Child Marriage Free Area in her country. In this time, she worked directly with the local government in this initiative. She founded a youth feminist Organization named BINDU Nari Unnayan Sangathan.
Mutinta Masowe is a Zambian feminist, Educationist with a BAED, passionate about climate justice, social accountability, SRHR, and Education. She champions green economy and women equality.
Faith Madaki is an international development consultant. She is a Chevening Alumni and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Currently a Ph.D candidate studying Development communications. She has a MSc International Development from University of Bath Uk and BA Development Studies from Catholic University of Eastern Africa Kenya.
Faith is an inter-sectional feminist passionate about humanitarian work and ensuring everyone has equal opportunities and safe spaces, especially for women, girls and youth. Over the past 5 years, she has worked as a development consultant towards raising funds to lift people out of poverty in hard to reach communities across Nigeria. Faith has worked with International NGOs such as ActionAid, UNICEF, GAIN and African Initiative. She is currently a director at Imani humanitarian initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of human welfare.
Sheila Cabusao is a Filipino feminist activist, currently based in Bangladesh. Sheila was one of the organizers and a founding member of the Young Feminist Network, a grantee of FRIDA – the Young Feminist Fund since 2018. She is currently providing an advisory role to the network and a freelance consultant for I/NGOs working and supporting young feminist activism and social movements. Sheila has a long-standing experience in youth engagement and women’s rights for over 7 years, enriched with multicultural and multi-country working experience with government, media, and civil society organizations. She also has an in-depth understanding of humanitarian crisis and conflict through diversified work engagements as a community volunteer, media personnel, government employee, and civil society representative. Turned gender trainer Sheila is also alumni of the Korean Institute for Gender Equality Promotion and Education (KIGEPE). She provides training to young folks on gender and feminist leadership.
Nancy Houston Ouya is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya passionate about powering feminist movements for gender justice. She is a 2021/2022 Chevening Scholar at the University of Essex where she is pursuing an LLM in International Human Rights Law. As the co-founder of Feminists in Kenya, a vibrant movement for community, joy, and resistance, she collaborates with multiple partners to shape feminist policies and amplify feminist discourse in Kenya. Nancy is also an Advisor at FRIDA-The Young Feminist Fund where she works to shape feminist funding for women and girls in Africa. She enjoys writing, researching and speaking about the intersections of Gender and the Law.
Jessica Grün is a policy advisor for fundamental rights and security for the Austrian Green Party in Parliament as well as the President of Women in International Security Austria (WIIS). In her work with WIIS she challenges outdated ideas on and the role of women in the field of security policy. Prior to her work in parliament, Jessica worked in the Austrian Foreign Ministry after finishing her Master of Advanced International Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna where she wrote her thesis on feminist foreign policy.
Jessica is a passionate feminist and human rights activist, and her desire for social justice and women’s empowerment led her to co-found “Menschenrechtswoche Tübingen”, a human rights education organisation based in Tübingen, for which she was awarded the Youth Peace Prize by the United Nations Association of Germany in 2017.
Aigerim Seitenova is a human rights professional from Kazakhstan with more than three years of experience in the civil society sector of Kazakhstan with particular focus on human rights and peace education, youth and feminist activism.
She worked as the Head of the Department of Programmes in local NGO ‘Wings of Liberty’ based in Astana, Kazakhstan. Her interests center on the most efficient ways of increasing human rights knowledge by engaging and empowering young people, raising awareness about different human rights violations on the local, regional and global levels. Aigerim is an expert for the OSCE #Perspectives20-30 where she contributed to the chapter on human rights and peace education. Her interests also focus on critical analysis of the international human rights law in particular feminist and the so-called TWAIL (Third World Approaches to Law) critiques. She also collaborated with UN Women in Kazakhstan by coordinating the Civil Society Advisory Group.
An alumni of EU Global Campus Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratization in the Caucasus, Aigerim is currently finishing her postgraduate degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex as a Chevening Scholar.
Julia is a dedicated sustainable development professional and a passionate advocate and activist for human rights and gender equality. She has four years of progressively responsible work experience with international NGOs, managing programs and partnerships for youth and women’s empowerment and policy for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs) as well as Transformative Education. Julia seeks to use her career and voice to uplift and empower others and believes in the power of communication and the arts in changing hearts and minds.
Julia holds a bachelor’s from the University of California Irvine and a master’s (cum laude) in International Relations from Webster Vienna Private University.
Rania Ali is an award winning journalist, public speaker, and human rights defender from Syria. Having made her first award-winning documentary with the Guardian in 2017, she works with several NGOs as a campaigner highlighting to governments the importance of protecting human rights defenders worldwide. She is an advocate for human rights generally and refugee and women’s rights specifically, engaged in that pursuit for the past five years. She has dedicated herself to speaking on many international platforms for said issues.
Currently, Rania Ali is pursuing a degree in international relations thus expanding her expertise in areas related to post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation.