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Maureen Sigauke

Nationality: Zimbabwean

Living in: Kwekwe, Zimbabwe

Co- Founder & Executive Director, Green Active Citizens Trust (GACT)

 

Maureen is an active global citizen who always seeks to be the change her community needs. Maureen’s early days of activism were in the labour movement where she stood for equality in the world of work calling for just and decent employment. Her experience as a labour activist strengthened her conviction to the fact that income inequalities influence inequalities in other dimensions of well-being.

Maureen currently consults for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung as a Program Facilitator for their Youth Leadership Training Program (for which she is a Fellow). This programme draws young leaders from different spheres across the Zimbabwe with a major thrust of discussing inequalities in different spheres as well as locating the role of youth towards sustainable development.

In 2016, Maureen co-founded a community-based organisation in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, called Green Active Citizens motivated by the concern that most countries, including Zimbabwe, were choosing to turn a blind eye to environmental justice in their quest for development. GACT’s main thrust is to infuse social and economic justice issues with environmental justice issues.

Maureen continues to volunteer with various organisations including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and those that deal with youths and children such as Junior Chamber International - Zimbabwe and Tugwi Trust. She has published a few articles and facilitated an equal number of trainings within Africa and beyond. Through participation of a number of international events, summits and conferences such as the UNFCCC COP21, 22, 23, Maureen possesses sound experience in the policy architecture related to global governance and justice. It is her desire that she intensifies her current efforts around labour and environmental justice to ensure that our communities develop their way out of poverty without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same while creating decent jobs in the process.

Maureen envisions herself occupying an influential position in the Education departments and structures of either the International Trade Union Confederation or the International Labour Organisation and playing a critical role informing action and engagements related to labour inequalities and injustices.

 

Personal Statement

As an Atlantic Fellow, I am particularly concerned with inequalities in the world of work (beyond income inequalities) with special attention on how they influence other inequalities of well-being.

Much of the debates and discussions around inequality focused on inequality as an economic phenomena and inequality as a static endpoint. While this serves as a good starting point, I strongly feel that there is need to focus on the world of work exhaustively and deliberately. Such a focus is justified by the fact that for most people, employment and its benefits thereof, has a bearing on their well-being, which comprises a set of capabilities indicating the extent of freedom individuals have in leading dignified lives.

The ILO World Employment and Social Outlook of 2017 aptly indicated that the decency and security of work has been heavily compromised due to liberalisation. Despite the rebound of global economic growth, by 3.6% in 2017, global unemployment remains elevated. Vulnerable employment was noted to be on the rise with predictions pointing towards an increased number of unemployed persons or those in precarious employment, particularly in developing nations, at above 76%. Further interrogation revealed that inequalities in labour market outcomes were still persistent with gender disparities still of particular concern. The lack of employment opportunities for youth was also noted to be another major global challenge acutely in the African context where the over 30% of the youth bulge were, on average, without a job. Importantly, gender inequalities are already established among young workers, rendering future progress in reducing gender gaps even more difficult.

It is such statistics and facts that motivated me to apply to be part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity. I am of a strong conviction that an equal labour market can result in the reduction of socio-economic inequalities and consequently help millions of people (particularly women youth and other disadvantaged groups) escape poverty. It is also my hope that I will add value to the programme by bringing this angle to the discussions based on my lived realities and experiences.

My interest in AFSEE is also for personal growth purposes. I view taking part in this programme as an opportunity to build strategic relationships, alliances and networks for future action against inequalities. This opportunity will give me a chance to learn from the other fellows and incorporate those learnings into my work.

‘Putting job creation at the heart of economic policy-making and development plans, will not only generate decent work opportunities but also more robust, inclusive, equal and poverty-reducing growth as articulated in SDG 8’

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Renata Cuk

Nationality: Croatian

Living in: Barcelona, Spain

Senior Program Specialist, Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE)

 

Renata is a Senior Program Specialist at the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). She works on supporting initiatives which create systems that citizens can use to reshape institutional democracy, making it more responsive, transparent, inclusive, and accountable. Within OSIFE, Cuk established the Effective Activism Fellowship that supports individuals exploring new models of citizen participation in institutional decision-making and governance. Since 2017, she is also a gender focal point for OSIFE, promoting gender equality internally and externally, and coordinating OSIFE’s efforts to develop a strong gender perspective in grant making. Recently, she engaged in the work on economic exclusion that focuses on collective actions at community level that can be scaled up to produce systemic policy change, transcending the local scale.

Renata first joined Open Society Foundations in 2011 as a Program Coordinator for the Emergency Fund for Croatia, a fund established in 2009 to address some of the most pressing social and economic issues arising from the financial crisis. Before that, she worked for a Croatian women’s rights organisation BaBe, focusing on gender-based violence, and in particular sexual violence, by fighting stereotypes surrounding victims and advocating for fair trials. In Croatia, she has been involved in different reconciliation initiatives, such as the Women’s Court for countries of former Yugoslavia, initiative started in 2010 to provide space for women’s voices and testimonies on their experience of violence during the war and in post-war period, as well as organised resistance to the violence.

Cuk holds BA and an MA in Sociology and Phonetics from University of Zagreb and an MA in Human Rights and Democracy in South East Europe, a joint degree from University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.

 

Personal Statement

My childhood was influenced by the war in former Yugoslavia. Coming from a so called (ethnically) 'mixed marriage', I experienced ‘othering’ based on ethnicity very early in my life and that left a mark. Perhaps that is a reason I always felt strongly about fighting injustice. During my activist years in Croatia, I realised that injustice is gendered, so I became a feminist and fighting for gender justice became essential part of my identity.

However, promoting gender justice made me realise I was missing something, and in order to effectively challenge inequality I needed a more intersectional approach. Understanding roots of inequality means understanding how different systems of oppression interact. Therefore, I see this fellowship as an opportunity to better understand inequality and become more effective in fighting it.

I am especially interested in the issue of economic exclusion and insecurity (e.g. abusive lending, access to quality and affordable services, goods and housing, etc.) and its intersections with gender and race. My aim is to challenge the demonisation of poor people that we so often witness in the media. My more specific goal is to explore how international philanthropy can address this issue and support communities fighting inequalities.

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Nicola Browne

Nationality: British

Living in: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Director (Policy), Participation and the Practice of Rights

 
 

Nicola is a human rights activist with 17 years’ professional experience, including in academia and NGOs. She is currently the Director (Policy) for the Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR), situated in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

PPR aims to put the voice of marginalised groups at the heart of social change, by supporting them to design and implement campaigns to realise their socio-economic rights and render decision-making more participatory. She is a founder staff member of PPR and played a key role in developing PPR’s unique participatory human rights indicator methodology which was recognised as a good practice example by the United Nations in 2012.

Nicola shares responsibility for the strategic direction of PPR, which has grown from a pilot project focused on mental health and housing in North Belfast into an internationally acclaimed human rights organisation working with marginalised people on a wide range of issues including employment and social security, urban regeneration, asylum, homelessness and Irish language rights. Nicola is a board member of member-driven campaigning organisation Uplift, and is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission's Research Advisory Group.

Nicola holds both an LLB (Hons) degree from the University of Dundee and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham. She previously worked as an academic researcher on capital punishment, penal policy and practice at the University of Westminster, and on asylum and refugee issues at UNHCR Liaison Office in Dublin.

 

Personal Statement

My commitment to tackling inequality is deep and longstanding. Issues of voice, exclusion, and dignity have always resonated deeply with me, from supporting vulnerable children as a telephone counsellor with Childline, to working with refugees and asylum seekers with UNHRC. I believe that we are all connected as human beings, and we act to protect others because of our common humanity.

My particular area of interest is socio-economic inequalities, and how power relationships operate in states, organisations, and domestic settings to either enable people to flourish and fulfil their rights, or to exclude and dominate. Through my work I have learned the importance of not only getting a change on the ground, but also of how you get that change. By placing tools and opportunities in the hands of marginalised communities to enable them to shape their own campaigns, I have seen remarkable transformations in policy and practice, but most importantly in people themselves.

To study with academics and researchers at LSE, who are carrying out cutting edge research on global inequalities, is an amazing opportunity in itself. However, the focus on peer learning is equally exciting. In my experience, it is through conversations that opportunities and ideas for change emerge - often casual conversations among activists and those in tight spaces seeking solutions. It's clear that organic network building and learning from other participants is among the core purposes of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity Programme, and I relish the opportunity to learn from others engaged in struggles around inequality.

In the future I am interested in democratising human rights and equalities work so that the kind of bottom up approach used by organisations like PPR is less of an anomaly. I would like to produce accessible writings on grassroots movements for social and economic equality, and develop my interest in sustainable activism to ensure expertise in the field is retained to support future generations of activists.

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Anita Peña Saavedra

Nationality: Chilean

Living in: Santiago, Chile

Feminist activist and researcher, Fondo Aquimia

 
 

Video: Anita talks about the AFSEE programme (in English)
Video: Anita sobre el AFSEE programa (en español)

Anita received a scholarship to study for a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s in gender studies in Chile, before completing a master’s in social policy and development at LSE. Because of her trajectory, working in the feminist movement in Chile, Anita received an award from her home town, Algarrobo.

In 2015, Anita started working in the cabinet of the Vice Minister of Women in the Chilean government. She was an adviser to the Vice Minister on sexual and reproductive rights issues and gender policies. During that time, Anita was also actively involved in the struggle to decriminalise abortion in Chile for three cases; when the pregnancy is a risk to a woman’s life, in the case of foetus unviability, and in cases of rape.

From 2004 Anita has been part of the feminist movement in Chile when she started organising campaigns with other young women at Valparaíso University. In 2008 she was involved in the feminist movement in Mexico, in Ciudad Juárez. There she was involved in Red Mesa de Mujeres, struggling to end violence against women and girls. In 2010 she was involved in the feminist resistance in Honduras. Between 2011 and 2015 Anita returned to Chile to join the campaign for abortion rights.

During her stay in London, between 2015 and 2017, she was involved with Sisters Uncut, a direct-action group working against austerity cuts connected to violence against women. Currently, she is supporting local feminist movements in rural areas of Chile where women are campaigning on environmental issues, specifically the extraction of natural resources. She is part of a group of people who work from the perspective of feminist economics. Anita complements her professional and academic work with her activism, connecting her learning process at Santo Tomás University with social justice and social struggle.

Anita is also a consultant in the Women’s Institute of Chile, responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the project to prevent violence against the country’s young women and LGBT people. This project will be implemented over three years (2018-2021) in eight regions of Chile. The project has three stages: first it will undertake a study on violence against LGBT people and women in Chile, in the second year it will develop workshops and learning processes in each community in which it is based, and finally it will develop a national campaign to prevent violence.

Currently, Anita is a researcher at Fondo Aquimia, a feminist philanthropic organisation. She also works as an academic at Santo Tomás University, where she teaches social protection systems and labour for students of social work.

 

Personal Statement

I am interested in understanding the intersectional causes of gender inequalities; specifically with a focus on violence against women. I would like to understand whether intersectionality is an approach that can allow me to see other causes of violence against women, and to target it through innovative strategies. I would like to answer the questions of how and why gender policies (e.g., violence against women and abortion regulation) in Chile have both intended and unintended effects on gender relations and sexuality. The health system is often the first-level way to identify and provide services to survivors of domestic violence. General practitioners have the duty to report cases of domestic violence, but there are no studies which show how this reporting impacts the women involved. The fact that 48% of femicide cases occurred in instances where the state failed to effectively guarantee women’s safety is an indication that the current policies may not be working. Moreover, 48% of those killed were women with protection measures, living in a refuge or a place where the perpetrator could not be close to her.

So is state regulation an effective answer to domestic violence? Does the health-based approach to domestic violence help prevent the risk to women or is this approach making the issues of safety and security more complex to attend?

I applied to the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme because I would like to think carefully around these issues and to learn how I can help design a strategy to avoid some of the unintended effects of policies aimed at preventing violence against women . As a policy maker, I am well aware of the challenges; what I need is the time, space and access to international expertise to help me design better policies to address those challenges. As an activist I see how my community in Chile is affected by institutional violence, environmental problems, and an increased immigrant population, among others. Thus, I am involved in a collective process with a community-based feminist organisation in Chile with whom we are thinking about the strategies of action. I am committed to share all my new knowledge and experience gained from the AFSEE programme for building feminist methodologies to challenge intersectional inequalities in the private and public spheres of women’s life.

I want change and I want to be part of it.

In the future, I see myself as an agent of a change within my country and in the wider Latin American region. I see myself as important actor in the sphere of gender policies and in tackling gender-based and other forms of inequality. I would like to have the responsibility to lead a national programme of gender equality policies. Always, with one foot in the community sector, I see myself continuing to engage with the grassroots so as to make and share learning, and to mobilise collectively.

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Molly McCluskey

Nationality: American

Living in: Washington DC, USA

Independent Journalist

 

Molly is an independent investigative journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Pacific Standard, Rolling Stone, and an array of national and international publications. She has written extensively on how economics and foreign affairs intertwine. For more than a year, she has been reporting on the plight of incarcerated kids in America's criminal justice system.

She is a former International Women’s Media Foundation’s Democratic Republic of the Congo reporting fellow, winner of the McGraw Fellowship for Business Reporting, and the inaugural recipient of the Solutions Journalism Network reporting grant. Molly is a frequent panellist, moderator, and guest lecturer on journalism and press freedom issues at American University's international reporting programme, Marine Corps University in Quantico, the Investigative Film Festival, the Newseum, the National Press Club, and many others.

After spending eight years living between Washington, D.C. and various cities in Europe, Molly is now based in Washington, D.C., where she is currently serving her fourth term on the Board of Governors of the National Press Club, the world's leading professional organisation for journalists.

 

Personal Statement

In early 2017, I accepted an assignment to report on alternatives to youth incarceration in America, that is, programmes that allow a work-study type of arrangement, or community service, rather than prison time for kids and teens. I expected it to be one time assignment, from which I would move on to another topic, or return to my regular beat of reporting on economic-based foreign affairs. Instead, I found myself captivated by the topic, and one story led to another, and then another. Over the course of 2017, I wrote half a dozen articles on the plight of incarcerated kids, with an emphasis on solitary confinement. I expected each article to be the last, but each story led to another thread that required exploring. Through all of my reporting, the common theme remained the same, that a lack of financial resources makes kids more likely to be arrested, receive longer sentences, and have a difficult time reintegrating into society.

I applied to the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme to be able to fully explore this topic, to devote time and resources to exposing the gross inequalities in the American criminal justice system, and how kids that are trapped in it - whether guilty or not - can be ensnared in a lifelong cycle of incarceration and recidivism.

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Pedro Telles

Nationality: Brazilian

Living in: São Paolo, Brazil

Representative in Brazil for Luminate

 
 

Video: Pedro talks about the AFSEE programme (in English)
Video: Pedro fala sobre o programa AFSEE (em português)

Pedro is a Brazilian development professional and activist with expertise in advocacy, policy analysis and civic engagement. He has worked with civil society organisations, movements and funders in several countries across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

He represents Luminate in Brazil, and is responsible for activities in the country and across Latin America. Luminate, which has spun out from Omidyar Network, is among the world’s largest funders of organisations and initiatives focused on strengthening democracy and civic engagement.

Pedro is also an advocacy lecturer at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), and a co-founder and lecturer at the Advocacy Hub. Furthermore, he is a co-founder of Bancada Ativista (Activist Caucus), an independent civic movement focused on supporting activists with a solid background who decide to run for legislature, and a co-founder and member of the advisory board at Engajamundo, an award-winning organisation focused on youth engagement and intergenerational equity.

Pedro’s past professional experiences include work with Greenpeace, Oxfam, Brazil Human Rights Fund, Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), among others.

He holds a master’s in development studies with distinction from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), postgraduate degrees in economics and in political science, and a bachelor’s degree in social communications. Pedro is also a trained facilitator of meetings and strategic planning processes, and an experienced public speaker.

In 2012, Pedro was one of four people selected by The Elders to work with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, and former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso in a project related to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

 

Personal Statement

Inequalities have always been at the centre of my attention. Coming from one of the most unequal countries in the world, it is not hard to explain why. The strong presence and severe effects of inequalities in nearly all dimensions of society, from livelihoods and access to basic services to environmental issues and the way the political system operates, make them central for anyone concerned with human rights and social justice.

In one way or another, inequalities have always been a key part of my work and activism. They were the focus of my master’s dissertation, which I later adapted for Oxfam to publish as a report in Brazil, helping to shape their global campaign on the issue. At Greenpeace, I led initiatives that contributed to bring the concern with inequalities to the core of the organisation's environmental work. A few years ago, in the run up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), I was part of a project by The Elders working with Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Gro Brundtland and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, calling for equity to be at the core of the UN’s sustainable development agenda.

Over the last few years, the subject of political inequalities has become a top priority for me. In Brazil, 89.6% of Congress members are men and 79.9% are white, leaving women and people of colour drastically underrepresented. The average declared wealth of a congressperson is R$2.8 million (US$860,000), placing them in the top 0.01% of Brazilians. Similar levels of political inequalities are found in many other countries across Latin America and the world — and they appear not only among those who are elected, but also among those who are invited to join government teams or spaces such as government councils.

We will not be able to adequately address the severe inequalities we face in our societies as a whole until we address the severe inequalities we face in our political systems. The way they are built and operated today is one that reproduces and reinforces structural injustices and imbalances, and addressing this is crucial for us to be able to address inequalities more broadly.

Finding, developing and supporting solutions for this challenge is an important part of my work with Omidyar Network, as well as an important part of my activism with movements and initiatives for political renovation. It is also something I intend to keep doing for a long time. In this context, the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme brings a unique opportunity to dive deep into studies and discussions in a way that daily activities do not open space for, and together with an exceptional group of people work on ideas and projects that can make a very significant difference.

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Roseline Orwa

Nationality: Kenyan

Living in: Nairobi, Kenya

Founder, Rona Foundation

Roseline is a gender expat and a social entrepreneur. She is a celebrated widow activist, a poet, a correspondent writer with Modern Widows Club's online magazine, and a TV Talk show host. She is a mentor whose work is replicated across Kenya, and a life skills coach. Roseline serves as an appointed Commissioned Expert with the Ministry of Labour and Social Services. She holds a Diploma in Printing and Graphic design from the Technical University of Kenya, and is a graduate in Public Relations and Communication from Daystar University. She also holds a postgraduate diploma in Project Management and Innovation.

Roseline is a Fellow of Amani Institute for Social Innovation Management and has trained with National Democratic Institute for Leadership and Political Negotiations for Advocacy. She has been a front runner nominee for NGO Diaspora Awards 2015 in Texas USA. She was a front runner nominee for Giraffe Heroes Kenya Awards 2015, and was a semi-finalist for Global Pluralism Award in Canada 2017. She has been nominated for the Yvonne Herbert Program under the UN Women in 2018. She serves as CEO and Founder of Rona Foundation.

Roseline is a childless mother to 26 orphaned children, and runs a community centre that supports widows and orphans. She is born again, and devoted in service to God.

 

Personal Statement

Having lived through ostracisation I know abuse, stigma, and rejection, since women like me, culturally, have no value except humiliating names. Because we are a society ruled by culture, and culture enslaves, even the educated. Widows therefore remain invisible, afraid, and with no support or opportunities, but endure daily harmful cultural practices in abject poverty. With more than four million widows in Kenya seeking recognition, acceptance, protection and resource allocation, I believe there is space for innovation, creativity, and empowerment with the millions of rural widows left behind. I am interested in social justice and empowerment for the rural widows, and creative ways to overcome harmful cultural practices and beliefs, without necessarily losing community identities, but in a way that the widows can be partners in progress, have improved livelihoods, and become change makers with applicable laws to protect them.

I am dreaming of educating a percentage of men, cultural opinion leaders, church elders and elected leaders from my county so that they can influence policy that works, as well as men cleansers/inheritors to be protectors and not perpetrators, so that rural widows can be change makers who recognise their rights and dignity. And more importantly, make better choices.

Because I have founded and run a community centre that supports widows and orphans in a rural village, I wish to acquire much needed skills for creating a sustainable project, with proper people skills in a constantly changing environment, where vulnerability and poverty wears a widow’s face, and in doing so, transform attitudes and behaviours for ordinary rural widows. As a widow, this fellowship will break a silent personal barrier in the academic ladder for me, as an emerging woman leader.

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Milanoi Koiyiet

Nationality: Kenyan

Living in: Nairobi, Kenya

Human Rights Lawyer, Centre for Women's Rights Advocacy

 

Milanoi is a human rights lawyer with over nine years’ experience in women’s rights, children’s rights and disability rights. She has worked with non-profit organisations, advocating for the rights of women and children to live a life free from violence. She has made presentations calling on ending violence against women and girls with disabilities at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women and United Nations Conference of State Parties on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Milanoi has worked as a consultant for Disability Rights International, the Kenya Association for the Intellectually Handicap, Handicap International, Acacia UK, Women Challenged to Challenge, Lesotho National Federation for the Disabled and CREA. She is a founding member of the Kenyan Network Advocating for the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities, whose aim is to strengthen advocacy, movement building and raise awareness on the rights of women and girls with disabilities. She has also worked with the Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya (FIDA-K), Coalition on Violence Against Women-Kenya (COVAW), and Women Enabled International (WEI) in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Gender Based Violence prevention working group that includes individuals and organisations in sub-Saharan Africa and African Women in Law and Development (AWID).

Milanoi received her LL.M., with a focus on Human Rights and Comparative Disability Law and Policy from Syracuse University in 2016. She received her LLB from Moi University in 2008.

 

Personal Statement

I have wanted to challenge inequalities and social injustices from an early age. I come from the Maasai community in Kenya where female genital mutilation and early marriages are still practiced. Women and girls are meant to be shy, timid and not outgoing and outspoken as I am. I saw this growing up and it always felt wrong for me. What worries me more is the fact that the inequities and social injustices like female genital mutilation, early marriage, violence against women are engrained in young children from an early age because of what we see and are taught growing up. I want to give back to my community through mentoring young girls and boys and other community members to know and demand their rights. This is how we can change an entire generation through ensuring they get the right information, mentors and outlook in life from an early age. This led me to work in women’s rights immediately after my undergraduate studies, since then I have been challenging inequalities and demanding a life free from violence for all vulnerable children and women.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.’ Margret Mead.

I want to broaden and sharpen my skills and expertise in women and girls’ rights in advocacy, litigation and research to end inequalities by creating lasting solutions. Too often I see gender based violence legislation and policies fail in implementation because of lack of involvement of the people they affect. I want to work with and build the capacity of grassroots organisations, with a focus and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities, to ensure that this doesn’t happen. I want to work together with them to create platforms to engage with, and input into law and policy, processes that concern us as women and girls. As a founding member of the Kenyan Network Advocating for the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities I would like to learn more on sustainable networks. I also want to be part of a network of change makers globally to exchange ideas, work together in providing lasting solutions to ending inequalities and social injustices at national, regional and international level.

‘I am not free while any woman is unfree when her shackles are different from my own.’ Audre Lorde.

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James Muraguri

Nationality: Kenyan

Living in: Nairobi, Kenya

Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Public Finance Kenya

 

James is an accountant by training and has over 15 years’ experience working in the non-profit sector focusing on youth and governance. He is the CEO/Founder of the Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPFK) and currently the lead consultant for Open Budget Survey (OBS) Kenya, which is the world’s only independent, comparable measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight.

As an active public finance practitioner, James has developed great interest in deepening his technical understanding and developing subject matter expertise in public finance and inequalities which has seen him engage more with subnational governments, citizens and organised interest groups on working around equity and fairness in revenue allocation.

As part of the Institute’s technical team, James supports women and people living with disabilities in organised groups to strongly engage with the government in making key decisions and prioritising allocations of public expenditure during the budget process.

 

Personal Statement

I believe that public finance holds growing relevance to Kenya because of a new constitution that has seen devolution of public management and public resources to 47 sub-national governments. As a practitioner and a team leader at the Institute of Public Finance, Kenya, I have seen both the opportunities and challenges of public finance management in addressing inequalities as most of the newly formed counties struggle with planning and management of devolved resources, and on the other hand citizens being unsure on how to mobilise their collective voice in determining public value priorities. Over fifty years since Kenya gained independence, the level of inequalities continues to increase despite the overall national government spending increasing.

AFSEE is the type of exposure that will provide me with an opportunity to learn from diverse experiences, interact with the best brains across the world under the tutorship of world-class experts in the field of inequalities as I bring my personal and professional experiences to enrich the shared learning. Further, as Kenya progresses towards Vision 2030, (the development blue print for the nation) there will be a need to strongly address the inequality questions and this will require a mix of skills and expertise to be infused with overall thinking in government and private sector. I believe that AFSEE puts me on that path.

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Milena Abrahamyan

Nationality: Armenia

Living in: Yerevan, Armenia

Feminist justice and peace activist

 

Milena has been engaged with social justice activism and study spanning themes from violence against women, queer and LGBTI resistance, and the struggle against war and militarisation.

She has a bachelor's in Women and Gender Studies from City University of New York, Hunter College and a master's in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University where she was a Rotary Peace Fellow from 2013-2015.

She has ten years’ of work experience within civil society organisations with programmes relating to gender, peace-building and cross-border dialogue. She is the founder of the feminist trust and solidarity building initiative Beyond Borders: Linking Our Stories with Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian women. She is currently completing a research project that aims to provide support to civil society organisations working in the South Caucasus with incorporating a culture of peace approach to strategic planning of programmes and organisational development.

 

Personal Statement

I am interested in engaging with processes for seeking creative and collaborative solutions to injustices prevalent in the world. Such processes include engaging with people who come from different communities with shared issues of violence in all its forms, including inequality. I am motivated by a desire to see people living freer lives - free from worry about how to feed their families and pay back their bank loans, free from violation by police if they exercise their right to protest, free from poor health as a result of environmental pollution or the stress of living in highly militarised contexts, free from living under corrupt regimes that privatise public goods, and free from war propaganda that dehumanises others and justifies proliferation of weapons and war. As such, I am mainly interested in disrupting violence, especially in contexts where war breeds corruption and abuse, by creating space for reflection, healing and motivation to act upon violent structures as a means for restoring justice.

I applied to become an Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity with the hopes of learning more about the social and economic aspects of structural violence, and to learn from my peers. My ambition is to contribute to a network of people committed to justice and to build collective movements and processes for disrupting violence in our local contexts with support from others struggling against violent structures in different parts of the world.