President, Prof. Rita Süssmuth
As the former president of the Bundestag (1988 – 1998), Prof. Süssmuth has been the only woman whose term has lasted the third longest in the history of the party. Prof. Süssmuth’s tireless work in women’s rights advocacy has been largely shaped by her academic and political career. Her compassionate and humanitarian work has landed her many awards thus far such as the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal among many others. She was elected Woman of the year in 1987. Her role has been influential in every position she has occupied so far. In 2015, Ms. Süssmuth, along with a few other women (read more below), founded the Women’s Network for Change.
Vice-President, Dr. Ranjana Kumari
One of India’s best known academics and social activists, Dr. Kumari is perhaps mostly reputed as the Director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR). CSR was established in 1983 in order to empower not only women but any underprivileged and excluded being. She also serves as the Chairperson of Women Power Connect. Dr. Kumari’s academic career and background in research has enabled her to write extensively and lobby for human rights, in particular for women. She was awarded the Lotus Leadership Award in 2015 for her dedication in her work. Currently, her goal is to ensure the Women's Reservation Bill is passed. Dr. Kumari is also a member of the Facebook board (International Safety Advisory Board) as well as a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.
Ms. Arbana is an early activist of the democratic and feminist movements in Albania and among the 1000 women candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She is founder of Useful to Albanian Women (UAW) and YWCA- Albania. Her first regional program, Woman Bridge for Peace and Understanding, promoted nonviolence and women in leadership as well as initiated a rehabilitation center for street children, a campaign against trafficking of Albanian girls and women, and saw the country's first Women’s Club. Arbana is currently leading the initiative 'Another Balkan is Possible! Another World is Possible!'. She was President of Albanian NGO, Head of the Nat'l. Council of Albanian Women, leader of the UNESCO Council of Women, and appointed to the HWPL Cmte. - Albania for Peace Advocacy (2015). She was also 1 of 12 women featured in The Peace Calendar from Ambassadors of Peace-Albania. She has received numerous awards including a Human Rights award from France; a Philanthropy award from Partners, Albania (2016); and a Plaque of Appreciation from Nam Hee Kim, Chair of the Intl. Women Peace Gr. (2017), in recognition of her contributions to the Decl. of Peace and Cessation of War.
Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea
Becerra Basterrechea is a Member of the European Parliament from Spain and Vice-Chair for the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights. Having graduated in Industrial Psychology, she completed it with an MBA and several postgrads in Marketing Management, Human Resources and NGOs. She developed her professional career in the sphere of marketing and communication during more than twenty years as an executive manager in multinational companies such as CBS, Paramount-Universal, Disney and Sony. She is also a novelist, having written and published three novels. Becerra Basterrechea is also president of AWARE (Alliance of Women Against Radicalisation and Extremism), the first European network of women combating radicalisation, a digital platform that serves as a meeting point for persons, organisation, institution or media outlet wishing to help prevent radicalisation in Europe.
Ms. Bobonazarova is the first woman from Tajikistan to receive the International Women of Courage award from the U.S. Department of State (2014) and is also the first female candidate for President in Tajikistan’s history. In her work as an activist, Bobonazarova was arrested for “treachery” on the alleged charges of plotting a coup. Upon her release from prison, she served as a human rights counselor in the Tajik office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Later, she founded Tajikistan’s first independent prison monitoring program. Bobonazarova is presently serving as the head of Perspektiva Plus, a human rights group working on behalf of women, prisoners and Tajikistani labor migrants.
Ms. Chavez is an American author, commentator, and former radio talk show host. The first Latina to ever be nominated to the United States Cabinet, Ms. Chavez was the highest-ranking woman in the Reagan White House. She has been a civil rights activist, working to change the role of Hispanics in America. She served a four-year term as a Special Rapporteur to the United Nation’s Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. As the founder of the Center for Equal Opportunity, the focus of her organization is on racial preferences, immigration and integration, and multicultural education. She now works in social and educational fields, raising awareness about minorities and biases that are present. In 2000, Chavez was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress for her continued involvement and contributions to American culture.
María Teresa Fernández de la Vega
As the first female Deputy Prime Minister in Spanish history, Ms. Fernández de la Vega has inspired many women to pursue politics and defend the rights of women. Shortly after obtaining her law degree and becoming a judge, she entered politics where she undertook various roles as Secretary of State for Justice, parliamentarian and general secretary of the Socialist Parliamentary Group. Maria Teresa has also been a member of the Civil Society Advisory Group to UN Women. Presently, she serves as Permanent Member of the Council of State of Spain and is the founder and President of the Mujeres por África Foundation, with the aim of contributing to the development of Africa through its women.
Donna M. Hughes, PhD
Hughes is a life-long advocate of freedom and human rights for women. She is a strong opponent of all forms of violence against women and exploitation. She holds the Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair in Women's Studies, and is a professor in gender and women's studies and criminology and criminal justice at the University of Rhode Island. She conducts research on human trafficking, particularly the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls. In 2017, she was awarded the University of Rhode Island's College of Arts and Sciences Annual Research Award; and she was awarded the Alice Paul Award for Women Who Have Worked to Confront Men’s Violence Against Women by the Committee on Feminist Movement History of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism. In 2010, she was awarded the URI Council on Research Annual Research Award; and she was awarded the Norma Hotaling, Josephine Butler Award for "challenging the status quo and creating new abolitionist policy or approach to sex trafficking in the United States." In 2016, Hughes founded a peer-reviewed, academic journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence. She is the Editor-in-Chief.
Dr. Jalal was the only female candidate in Afghanistan’s 2004 presidential election. Previously, she has served as Afghanistan’s Minister of Women’s Affairs. A paediatrician and political activist, Dr. Jalal teaches at Kabul University and also works for the UN World Food Programme. As a representative of women in Afghan society, Massouda has been critical of the government’s lack of support for women’s advancement. The Jalal Foundation, her NGO, unites more than 50 women councils and organizations to advocate for, and empower, women.
Ms. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger‘s political activities began in 1978, shortly after she received her degree in law. From 1990 to 2013, she was a member of the German Bundestag where she was also a member of the federal board of the Free Democratic Party. Sabine has served as the Federal Minister of Justice in two different cabinets (1992-1996 & 2009-2013) and has also been active in the Council of Europe. In 2013, the German government announced her candidacy for the office of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Her current role is that of a human rights commentator and involves data protection in German media. She is a board member of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Vice-president of the Theodor - Heuss - Foundation. During her outstanding career, she has also been named the recipient of several distinguished awards some of which include, the Paul Klinger Prize, Mona Lisa Woman of the Year, and, more recently, the Arnold Freymuth Prize, Max Alsberg Prize and a Data protection Prize.
Prof. Rashida Manjoo
Rashida Manjoo is a Professor of Human Rights in the Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Until July 2015, she held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences. Prof. Manjoo is the former Parliamentary Commissioner of the Commission on Gender Equality, an institution created by the Constitution of South Africa. She has also been involved in social context training for judges and lawyers, where she has designed both content and methodology. Prof. Manjoo has over four decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Her research interests include human rights broadly with a particular focus on women’s human rights. She has authored a number of journal articles, book chapters and reports on women’s human rights, violence against women, transitional justice, and state responsibility to act with due diligence in the quest to promote and protect the human rights of women. Her research and teaching has focused on the intersectional nature of discrimination, including on the base of sex, gender, race, class, location, (dis)ability, socio-economic conditions, and historical and cultural contexts. She has particularly highlighted the interaction of interpersonal, communal, institutional and structural factors that negatively impact the interdependence and indivisibility of the human rights of women.
Rama Yade is a Senegalese-born French politician and has authored several books including the notable title, Noirs de France (Blacks in France). Yade has previously served as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights and, subsequently, as the Secretary of Sports in French government. Between December 2010 and June 2011, Yade was the Permanent Delegate of France to UNESCO. Shortly after, she became the Vice-President of the centre-right Radical Party, a post she held until September 25, 2015. As a feminist, Rama favours affirmative action with regards to women’s rights and immigrants.