Alaa Murabit's family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Brought up in a Muslim household where she was equal to her brothers, she was shocked to see how women were viewed and treated in her new country. She enrolled in medical school, but felt frustrated by the gender discrimination she experienced.
During her fifth year in med school, the Libyan Revolution broke out. Murabit was invigorated by how women were embraced as decision-makers in the movement. She founded The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW) to focus on challenging societal and cultural norms to make that the case all the time. Many VLW programs -- like the Noor Campaign, which uses Islamic teaching to combat violence against women -- have been replicated internationally.
Murabit is an advisor to many international security boards, think tanks and organizations, including the UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group and Harvard’s Everywoman Everywhere Coalition. An Ashoka Fellow, Murabit was a Trust Women Hero Award Winner in 2013.
Yasmeen became the Global Executive Director of Equality Now in 2011 after serving as Deputy Executive Director and Director of Programs for three years. Previously, she was with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women where she worked on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Secretary-General’s study on violence against women. Yasmeen clerked on the D.C. Court of Appeals (1994-1995) and practiced corporate law at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York and California (1995-2003). In 1999, Yasmeen edited Equality Now’s first report on discriminatory laws. She has served on the Council on Foreign Relations’ Advisory Board on Child Marriage, provided expert guidance to the U.N. Trust to End Violence Against Women, and advocates for women’s rights through appearances in numerous media outlets, including CNN, Al Jazeera, the Huffington Post, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Yasmeen holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where, among other subjects, she studied Islamic law and women’s rights. She also holds a B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, USA.
For Yasmeen, the law makes a critical difference; it is a statement of your worth as a citizen and influences the direction your life will take. Growing up in Pakistan, her defining moment came at age 10 when her country’s laws were ‘Islamacized’ treating women as second class citizens. Advocating for women’s rights became a major part of Yasmeen’s education and career, ultimately leading her to author the first study of domestic violence in Pakistan which became the nation’s submission to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
Julienne Lusenge is a native of Eastern Congo and a staunch militant for justice, peace and human rights and in particular a fervent women rights activist. In 2001, Ms Lusenge is the President of the Board of Directors and co-founder of SOFEPADI (Women’s Solidarity for Peace and Integrated Development), an NGO that promotes women’s and girls’ rights in Beni (North-Kivu) and in Bunia (the Eastern province). Since 2003, SOFEPADI has focused more specifically on sexual violence and socio-cultural crimes providing comprehensive, holistic support to women victims of sexual violence as well as promoting their access to justice.
Through its program to fight against impunity and sexual violence in Beni, Bunia and all Eastern DRC, SOFEPADI is now involved in assisting victims of sexual violence to navigate the judicial system and bring perpetrators of rape and sexual assault to national and international courts. Under her leadership SOFEPADI has built a solid reputation both nationally and internationally. SOFEPADI is an NGO member of CCJT (Congolese Coalition for Transitional Justice) and the lead organization of ESSAIM, a coalition of forty women’s groups set up in 2003 to defend and protect women’s rights in the Eastern provinces of DRC. In addition, SOFEPADI is the focal point of the International Coalition of Women in Situations of Conflict.
Catalina Escobar graduated in 1993 from Clark University with a degree of Business Administration, studies she combined with other academic programs in economics in Europe and Japan at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. She later completed a M.B.A. at the INALDE Business School in Bogota. She began her career in the banking and private fields, when in 2001 she created what would become her passion: The Juanfe Foundation (Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation).
Catalina is globally recognized social entrepreneur. Granted the National Merit Order Award by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in 2011, she joined the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women ́s Mentoring Partnership and became a CNN Hero in 2012.
Being the recipient of numerous awards, including 21 Leaders of the 21st Century by Women eNews in N.Y., Top 10 Best Colombian Leaders 2013, the Poder Business Awards (together with Former President of Brazil, Fernando Cardozo), and Lewis Institute Award from Babson College, Catalina was recognized as Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 by the World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation. In 2015 she won the World of Children Humanitarian Award. In 2016 she was given the Honorary Doctorate Degree from Clark University, as well as she has been selected as Women Leaders in Global Health Fellow 2017 by Stanford University.
Catalina is an international speaker. Some of her interventions have been in the Colombian Senate, Georgetown University, Standard Chartered Bank, TEDWomen, Citibank, Aspen Institute, Fortune Most Powerful Women, UN Women, Nobel Peace Prize Summit, Babson College, among others.