Women's Human Rights

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Liesl Gerntholtz is the executive director of the Women’s Rights Division, which she joined in May 2008. Prior to joining the division, Liesl was the executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre in South Africa, an organization that uses the law as a tool for social change for women survivors of gender-based violence, including through advocacy, media work, research, and legal representation. Liesl obtained her law degree (LLB) from the University of the Witwatersrand before qualifying as an Advocate. She practiced as a member of the Johannesburg Bar for 6 years before becoming the Senior Legal Officer at the South African Human Rights Commission. In 1998 she joined the South Africa Commission on Gender Equality as the head of its legal department followed by a time with the Aids Law Project as Manager of the HIV Law & Policy Unit.

Nada Mustafa Ali is the Africa researcher for the Women’s Rights Division, which she joined in February 2006. Before joining HRW, she was director of a London-based African nongovernmental organization working with refugees from twenty African countries on HIV/AIDS and other issues. She is the former women’s programme coordinator at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in Egypt, and was also a research fellow at the International Centre for Research on Women in Washington, DC. An academic and activist, she has written extensively and published in a number of areas, including gendered political discourses, gender and conflict, peace-building and post-conference reconstruction, women’s reproductive rights (mainly female genital mutilation), women’s socio-economic rights, the politics of coalition building among women’s organizations, universality versus cultural specificity in human rights, and women in the informal economy. She received her PhD in Government from the University of Manchester in the UK (2000), and has an MA from the American University in Cairo and a BSC (hon.) from the University of Khartoum.

Emily B. Allen is the part-time associate with the Women’s Rights Division. Prior to joining the division, Emily interned with the US Program of Human Rights Watch and worked with The Belaku Trust in south India, where she assisted with health research and women’s income generation groups in rural villages. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College in 2005 and is currently finishing her pre-medical school requirements at Hunter College. She joined the Women’s Rights Division in August 2006.

Farida Deif is the Middle East and North Africa researcher for the Women's Rights Division, which she joined in December 2003. She previously worked at UNICEF and UNFPA's Division for Arab States and Europe where she conducted research on gender-based violence and adolescent rights legislation in the Middle East and North Africa. She has also been engaged in advocacy efforts on behalf of Palestian citizens of Israel with Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Arab Association for Human Rights. In 2001, she wrote and produced a documentary on a range of minority rights violations by Israel for WITNESS, a New York-based NGO. She holds a dual M.A./ Diplôme from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po).

Angela Heimburger is the Americas researcher for the Women’s Rights Division, which she joined in February 2007. Prior to her arrival, she worked in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, first at the regional office of the Population Council in Mexico and later at the office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region based in New York. Specific topics of research and work include emergency contraception, abortion care, access to gender-equitable services, sexual rights and combating violence against women. She holds a Master’s degree in public health from Tulane University.

Rachel M Jacobson is the associate for the Women’s Rights Division, which she joined in September 2006. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she worked with Whole Woman’s Health and Jane’s Due Process, a reproductive rights advocacy organization, in Austin, Texas. In 2007, she graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, with a B.A. in Human Rights Studies and Women’s Studies.

Marianne Møllmann is advocacy director for the Women's Rights Division, which she joined in September 2003 as researcher for Latin America and the Caribbean. She moved to Human Rights Watch from Peru, where she worked with Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan and other local NGOs. As co-coordinator of the Women's Working Group of the International Network for Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Marianne was one of the organizers behind the Montreal Principles on equal access to ESC rights for women. She holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from Essex University.

Meghan Rhoad is the United States researcher for the Women’s Rights Division, which she joined in November 2007. Before coming to HRW, Meghan was a Women’s Law & Public Policy fellow at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., where she researched federal judicial nominations and analyzed policy developments affecting the economic security of low-income women and their families. Her previous work includes international advocacy projects using the human rights framework to address issues such as reproductive health and gender discrimination in inheritance law. Meghan is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center.

Nisha Varia is the Asia researcher for the Women's Rights Division, which she joined in January 2003. A former Fulbright Scholar to India, she previously worked at the International Center for Research on Women and has focused on community organizing, violence against women, and street children. She is also active as an organizer with Andolan, a New York City-based movement for low-wage South Asian immigrant workers. She received her M.A. from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Janet Walsh is the acting executive director of the Women's Rights Division. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she practiced law at several international law firms and the United Nations legal office in New York and did domestic violence, political asylum, and refugee law pro bono projects. Janet is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law. She has been with the Women's Rights Division since June 2002.



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