Participants

The inaugural Women and Rivers Congress in 2019 hosted over 90 women, as well as a handful of male allies, as participants from various regions of Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe. The following is a partial participant list that will continue to be updated as we receive bio information from participants.

Anu Adhikari

Senior Programme Officer, IUCN, Nepal

Anu is a researcher in climate change, gender and social inclusion and natural resource management with 15 years of experience. At IUCN Nepl she supports the development, resourcing and implementation of governance and equity plans, project activities related to livelihood and food security, gender and social inclusion, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate change, Coordination, linkages and facilitation with different line agencies, Reporting, Publication and Dissemination.


Martha Neanwi

Executive Director, Lokiaka Community Development Centre, Nigeria

Martha is an environmental and gender rights activist, a development practitioner, and the Executive Director of Lokiaka Community Development Centre -- an organisation that promotes her issues using indigenous based approaches. She supports capacity building for women and girls, including the capacity of youth to demand their right to quality health and reproductive rights, and rights to safe environment and water. Martha is from Ogoni in Rivers State of Nigeria.


Ange Asanzi

Africa Program Coordinator, International Rivers, South Africa

Ange joined International Rivers in 2014 to work with the Africa program covering the Inga dams and the broader dam development projects on Sub-Saharan Africa’s rivers. She provides campaign and administrative support for the Africa program as well as creating awareness on renewable energy solutions. Prior to joining International Rivers, Ange worked as a consultant in a Human Resource firm in Johannesburg for two years. Her experience also includes monitoring developments and carrying out research for the Inga dams as an intern at the United Nations Information Centre. Ange holds an Honours degree in Economics from the University of Kwazulu Natal and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Pretoria in South Africa.


Nikhil Aziz

Director of Land, Water and Climate Justice, American Jewish World Service, USA

Nikhil Aziz is director of Land, Water and Climate Justice. Before joining AJWS, he was executive director of Grassroots International, which funded social movements for resource rights in the Global South and did advocacy in the United States. Previously, Nikhil was associate director at Political Research Associates, which studied the right wing for the progressive movement. He continues to speak, teach and write on human rights, international development and social change. Nikhil has served on the boards of Africa Today Associates, Massachusetts Asians & Pacific Islanders for Health, MASALA (Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association), Resist, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Human Rights Funders Network, and the Engaged Donors for Global Equity (EDGE Funders).


Bian Yongmin

Professor and Director of the Department of International Law at University of International Business and Economics, China

Dr. Bain’s research interests focus on trade and environment, trade and labor, sustainable development issues in Free Trade Agreements. She serves in the Council of the China Academy of International Economic Law and the Council of Beijing Academy of International Law. Her publications include a book on Environmental Measures and International Trade Law (Machine Press, 2005, Beijing); a chapter in Food Security and Food Safety, “Current Chinese Law on Food Safety: An Overview”(ed. by Ahmed Mahiou and Francis Snyder, The Hague Academy of International Law, 2006); papers “Trade Measures and Arrangements for Reducing Green House Gases”, 46:1 Journal of Nanjing University 41-47 (2009); and “The Role of Common but Differentiated Principle in International Environmental Law”, 29:4 Journal of Jinan University, ( 9-16)2007; and “The Disciplines on Trade of GM Products: the WTO GM Case”, 302 International Trade 62-65( 2007). She once worked as the principal investigator for the research project financed by the Ministry of Education of China on Trade Measures for Environmental Purpose. She currently conducts a research project financed by China’s National Social Science Fund on Environmental Treaties and Trade Measures. She is fluent in Chinese and English.


Medha Bisht

Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, South Asian University, India

Dr. Medha Bisht is Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi. Before joining SAU, she was Associate Fellow at IDSA, with the South Asia Cluster. She studied International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University and holds a doctorate from the Diplomatic and Disarmament Studies Division, JNU, New Delhi. Her area of interests are South Asian Politics, particularly Bhutan, international negotiations, political and strategic thought, state-society interface and strategic dimensions of non-traditional security issues. She has widely published and presented papers at national and international fora. Some of her recent publications include: Bhutan-India Power Cooperation: Benefits Beyond Bilateralism, Strategic Analysis, 36 (5), September 2012, Routledge and Bhutan and Climate Change: Identifying Strategic Implications, Contemporary South Asia, 2013 (forthcoming), Routledge.


Adela Bonilla

Member, Community Environmental Network of El Salvador (RACDES), El Salvador

Adela Bonilla has been a member of the Community Environmental Network of El Salvador (RACDES) for 12 years. As an environmentalist, feminist and human rights defender, her passion for environmental activism comes from through interactions with her roots, people and livelihoods. She started her work as Legal Advisor in the creation of proposals of municipal ordinances and public policies for the care of the environment. Currently she works with RACDES, the National Board of Food Sovereignty and the National Alliance Against the Privatization of Water. The National Alliance Against the Privatization of Water coordinates a team of 80 organizations including environmental groups, women's and social organizations, churches, trade unions, and academia. The Alliance is lobbying the Environment and Climate Change Commission, the Legislative Assembly with the Left Fraction, to get approval of the General Water Law in which there is a framework law for the protection and care of water resources, and recognition of the human right to water.


Dorn Bouttasing

Independent Filmmaker and Founder/Director of Green Laos Community Volunteers, Laos

Dorn Bouttasing is the founder and director of Green Laos Community Volunteers (GLCV), an organization that advocates for sustainable development in Laos. GLCV conducts community-based research, and make documentaries about local environmental issues, raising awareness on the impacts from large-scale development project such as, hydropower dams, mono plantation and chemical supply on agriculture. She also consults with the Land Learning Initiative for Food Security Enhancement (LIFE) Project.


Pratibha Brahma

Vice Chair, Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Ltd (TRIFED), Ministry of Tribal Affairs, India

Smt. Pratibha Brahma is Vice-Chair for TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited). She is an adviser of Bodo Women for Peace Movement, a network of women organisations from Assam & actively involved with local NGOs. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief of ‘Bibungthi-The Opinion’, the only English Journal published from Bodoland Territorial Council, Assam. She has published a book by the name of a “Brave Soldier of Humanity: Dr. Birubala Rabha” and “Baukhungri-Telling Tales”. Smt. Pratibha has passed the Entrepreneurship Development Programme of Village Industry Management under KVIC and attended the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, Government of India. She was awarded by Government of Assam for work in the field of Development of Orchid Plant. Her most significant and recent contribution in conflict resolution on transboundary river of Saralbhanga on Indo-Bhutan borders have helped nearly 15000 farmers in Kokrajhar.


Archana Chatterjee

Project Manager, IUCN, India

Archana Chatterjee is Project Manager for Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative, and leading the India component. Archana has more than seventeen years of experience with non-governmental and UN organisations. Before joining IUCN, she was working with the UNESCO- New Delhi Office as National Project Coordinator, World Heritage Biodiversity Programme, India. She has also worked as Head, Regional Programme on Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands Rivers, WWF-India. Archana holds M.Phil and Masters in Environmental Sciences from Jawahar lal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has also completed international training programmes on 'Decision Making in Natural Resource Management' from Wageningen University, The Netherlands and 'Transboundary Water Management' from Sweden.


Mela Chiponda

Regional Campaigns Coordinator, WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance, Zimbabwe

Melania has expertise in movement building, action oriented research and development of advocacy strategies. She has vast experience working with grassroots women affected by mineral resource extraction and has worked with a leading grassroots movement in Zimbabwe which represents women and communities impacted by mining induced involuntary displacements. Her research and advocacy work engages with global extractive industries from the perspective of grassroots women that are directly affected by mining, and is embedded in a participatory action research approach. An overarching theme of her research involves women’s land rights, environmental and climate justice. Melania has vast experience supporting grassroots women’s efforts to take creative advocacy actions, and she took a leading role in raising the profile of violence against women in the extractives industry through diverse strategies. Melania holds an MSc in Development Studies from Women’s University in Africa.


Aruna Das

Community Leader, Mahabahu Brahmaputra Federation, India

Aruna Das is a community leader from Lakhimpur, Assam and has played a pivotal role in organising dalit communities from Ranganadi into a strong federation called the “Mahabahu Brahmaputra Federation.” She has led successful movements forcing local Government, PSUs and private sector actors to undertake public works more responsibly and positively benefit the her people. She is one of the TROSA water user group members and has used this platform to engage with other women leaders in the region to unite for good governance and inclusive participation of the community for their sustainable development. Being from modest dalit family, Aruna overcame personal struggles to rise from a school dropout to an emerging community leader inspiring scores of women champions from Lakhimpur in Assam.


Pai Deetes

Thailand and Burma Campaigns Director, International Rivers, Thailand

Based in the Mekong Region, Pai work focuses on protecting the Mekong River from dams proposed for its mainstream, and in particular on Thailand's role as dam developer and the main intended market for the hydroelectricity. Before joining International Rivers in 2010, Pai spent seven years as coordinator of the Thai NGO Living River Siam (SEARIN), working to empower communities living alongside the Mekong and Salween rivers to protect their rivers, rights and livelihoods, and to stop destructive dams. Pai has a Bachelor's degree in English and is an Ashoka Fellow.


Kalawati Dhami

Social Mobilizer, Sankalpa, Nepal

Kalawati Dhami is working as a social mobilizer in Darchula. She has been leading facilitation of the Women Empowerment Centre (WEC), a women’s group formed to advocate for communities’ rights to access and control the Mahakali river (a transboundary river between Nepal and India) resources under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia Project (TROSA). Oxfam in Nepal is implementing TROSA project in four districts.


Annelieke Douma

Senior Program Officer, Both ENDS

Strategic coordinator Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action, The Netherlands

Annelieke Douma holds an MSc in Systems Engineering, Policy Analysis and Management with a specialization in Integrated Water Resources Management. Over the past 15 years she has worked on international development and research projects related to water management, climate change, and gender equality. At Both ENDS she focuses on inclusive approaches to water management and climate adaptation and finance. She supports CSO engagement and monitoring of the Green Climate Fund, and is the strategic coordinator of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), which aims to catalyse the collective power of the women’s rights and environmental justice movements in more than 30 countries towards realising a world in which women can and do exercise their rights to water, food, and a healthy environment.


Bahar Dutt

Environmental Journalist and Conservation Biologist, India

Bahar Dutt is a conservation biologist and environment journalist. As a Biologist she ran an animal ambulance for injured primates, helped set up a rescue centre for them, and built rope bridges for the Colobus monkey in East Africa, and spent a decade with snake charmers across India on a community conservation project on a sustainable livelihoods project. As a television journalist, she has reported on some of the biggest environment stories of our times . Her repertoire of reporting ranges from the Arctic, to the rainforests of Indonesia. Her celebrated TV series- Saving the Ganga’ for the news channel CNN-IBN ran in six regional languages including History Tv 18 India and was one of the highest rated TV shows. For this series she undertook a 2400 km journey as she followed the river Ganga from its source the Gaumukh Glacier across five states to the Bay of Bengal where it empties into the sea. In the second series she spent six months trailing the Western Ghats from north to south, meeting the people that inhabit one of the worlds ‘hottest hotspots’ and filming the unique biodiversity of this landscape for a programme entitled ‘Saving India’s Western Ghats’.


Nick Guroff

Communications Director, International Rivers, USA

Prior to joining International Rivers in February 2019, Nick directed Corporate Accountability International’s foundations program, media outreach, online communications, and publications work. He began his work in advocacy as a field organizer for Green Corps, field manager with MoveOn PAC, and as the California organizer for the National Environmental Trust (NET). At NET, Nick effectively advocated for the passage of landmark children’s environmental health protections. He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University in Radio/TV/Film and Slavic Languages and Literature, as well as a Masters of Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a PBS FRONTLINE/World fellowship.


Dipak Gywali

Former Minister, Water Resources Ministry, Nepal

Dipak Gyawali is a hydroelectric power engineer and political economist. An academician of the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, he is also chair of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation and Interdisciplinary Analysts. As Nepal’s Minister of Water Resources (2002–2003), he completed the privatization of the Butwal Power Company and introduced community electricity in Nepal giving control over local distribution to rural consumers. He conducts interdisciplinary research at the interface of technology and society from the perspectives of Cultural Theory (of Plural Rationalities). He was a management specialist to the Myanmar Government’s Ayeyarwadi Integrated River Basin Management Project in 2016/17 and has been on the advisory board of various universities and international organizations. He chaired the EU’s review of its water research funding between FP4 to FP6 as well as the review of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program IHP-6. He has also reviewed UNESCO IHE-Delft in 2007 as well as 2012 and 2016 for both institutional aspects and course standards. He was on the steering committee of Mekong’s MPower and is on the advisory committee of UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Program, and IDS Sussex STEPs Centre. In Nepal, he was the founding chairman of Rural Self-Reliance Development Center (Swabalamban) dedicated to the task of poverty alleviation and serves on the advisory board of National Association of Community Electricity Users Nepal, National Federation of Irrigation Water Users Association Nepal, etc. His latest publication (with Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij (eds.)) is Aid, Technology and Development: Lessons from Nepal (Earthscan, 2017).


Samantha Hargreaves

Regional Director, WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance, South Africa

Samantha Hargreaves is a land, agrarian and extractive industry specialist, promoting analysis and organising by women in South Africa and the rest of the continent. She has been employed by organisations fighting domestic violence, promoting landless peoples’ rights, building international anti-poverty social movements and addressing problems caused by mining and petroleum industries. She has served social movements as a field worker, researcher, campaigner and programme manager and in 2013, co-founded the WoMin (Women in Mining) African Gender and Extractives Alliance where she is currently the director. Samantha holds a master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and is an associate of the Wits Society Work and Development Institute.


Maureen Harris

Southeast Asia Program Director, International Rivers, Thailand

Maureen works with people’s movements and civil society partners in Southeast Asia, providing technical and advocacy support to efforts to protect vital transboundary rivers in the region from destructive dams and other developments. She works closely with regional networks of affected-communities, indigenous peoples and NGOs to safeguard water resources, rights and livelihoods, with a focus on the Mekong and the Salween Rivers. Prior to joining International Rivers, Maureen worked as Mekong Legal Director for EarthRights International based in Thailand, coordinating regional legal advocacy initiatives in support of local communities in the Mekong affected by hydropower dams, land concessions and mining projects. She has also worked with the Australian Human Rights Commission on human rights and judicial reform projects in China and Vietnam, and on human rights documentation and research in India and Australia. Maureen holds Bachelors’ degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Sydney and a Master of Laws (Human Rights and Social Justice) from the University of New South Wales.


Kate Horner

Executive Director, International Rivers, USA

Kate is a longtime environmental campaigner who combines strategic thinking with effective organizational management and fundraising. Prior to joining International Rivers, Kate was Director of Forest Campaigns for the Washington DC-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) where she built a dynamic, cohesive, and truly global team while leading strategic campaigns to save the world’s forests. She is passionate about water, energy and human rights issues, and brings enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the organization.


Bhuwaneshwari Joshi

Social Mobilizer, NEEDS, Nepal

Bhuwaneshwari Joshi is working as a social mobilizer in Kanchanpur. She has been leading facilitation of the Women Empowerment Centre (WEC), a women’s group formed to advocate for communities’ rights to access and control the Mahakali river (a transboundary river between Nepal and India) resources under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia Project (TROSA). Oxfam in Nepal is implementing TROSA project in four districts.


Mamata Karki

Social Mobilizer, RUDES and Women Empowerment Center, Nepal

Mamata Karki is working as a social mobilizer in Byas, Baitadi. She has been leading facilitation of Women Empowerment Centre (WEC), a women’s group formed to advocate for communities’ rights to access and control over Mahakali river (a transboundary river between Nepal and India) resources under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia Project (TROSA). Oxfam in Nepal is implementing TROSA project in four districts.


Megha Kashyap

Program Coordinator, Oxfam, India

Megha has a post graduate degree in social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, specializing in community organization and development practices. She is also a Linnaeus Palme Fellow from Lund University, Sweden. She is currently working as a Programme Coordinator - Gender Justice for Oxfam India. In this role she manages a multi country project funded by Global Affairs Canada names ‘Creating Spaces’ in five states in India: Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. The project is aimed to create safer spaces for women and girls to take action on violence against women and girls. It works with youth collectives in the five states. She also co-leads the Oxfam India Gender Campaign ‘Bano Nayi Soch’ that seeks to challenge social norms that underpins violence against women and girls. Prior to this, she led a program with the government of Sikkim (a state in northern India) in 100 government schools on an innovative peer education model to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking issues among school-age children. Megha also worked with a child protection non-governmental organization on cases related to child labor and child sexual abuse in India. Megha founded a non-formal education center and has over 7 years of experience on gender and violence in the development sector. She has previously worked as a Project Associate on a UN Women project with North East Network, a feminist organization in India to analyze budget allocations made by the government toward women in health, education and livelihoods, and organized awareness camps on reproductive health and hygiene for women.


Stephanie Keene

Senior Tenure Analyst, Strategic Analysis and Global Engagement, Rights and Resources Initiative, USA

Stephanie Keene is an attorney with a background in land tenure security, women’s rights, and corporate social responsibility, particularly in Africa. She has worked on issues of women’s land rights, gender-based violence, and social protection at the World Bank, and was previously an Associate with Covington & Burling LLP’s Anti-Corruption, Africa, and International Trade Controls practices. Stephanie has worked to protect the land rights of women-victims of illegal property seizure in Northern Uganda, and has served as a Princeton Fellow with the West African Regional Bureau of the UN World Food Program. Her field research and related reports include an environmental and human rights assessment of Indigenous People’s land rights within the context of a large-scale agricultural development project in Papua, Indonesia, and an assessment of Sierra Leone’s legal prohibition against child marriage. Stephanie received her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, and her undergraduate degree from Princeton University.


Bhawana Khadka,

President, Bahadure Women’s Empowerment Center, Nepal

Bhawana Khadka is the President and Coordinator of the Bahadure Women Empowerment Centre in Parshuram, Dadeldhura. She has been leading the Bahadure Women Empowerment Centre (WEC), a women’s group formed to advocate for communities’ rights to access and control the Mahakali river (a transboundary river between Nepal and India) resources under Transboundary Rivers of South Asia Project (TROSA). Oxfam in Nepal is implementing TROSA project in four districts. She has led several lobby meetings, and recently lead a river cleaning campaign during an inter-country festival held in Nepal in January 2019.


May Kimsreang

Gender Project Officer, Northeastern Rural Development Organization (NRD), Cambodia

May Kimsreang is a former Research Assistant at Hydrologic Social Enterprise, staff at Farmer Livelihood Development (FLD), trainer in FUSAAC Pleasure Reading Club and Social Work at Chea Sim University of Kamchaymear, and Research and Coordinate Agent at School of Sovannthourn Foreign Languages and Computer (SFL). She has a Bachelor of Agriculture in Rural Development from Chea Sim University of Kamchaymea.


Precious Wangechi Kiongo

Founder and Member, Save Lake Turkana, Kenya

Wangechi Kiongo recently graduated from Karatina University in Kenya with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Environmental Science. She is an environmental activist and currently serving as United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Youth Land for Life Social Media Activist. Through this, she has engaged in sustainable land management advocacy initiatives both online and on the ground. Kiongo is also a writer and writes not only for her blog but also for various conservation platforms both nationally and internationally. Kiongo co-founded the Save Lake Turkana Movement, a youth voluntary community-based organization that aims to create awareness about sustainability and protection of Lake Turkana, a World Heritage Site in danger. She is also a founder of EcoPhilia, a youth voluntary environmental community-based organization in Kenya. Her current National Geographic-supported project in Turkana was inspired by the need to advise regarding alternative livelihood sources for locals who depend on the lake to survive.


Manana Kochladze

Project Leader, CEE Bankwatch, Georgia

Manana joined Bankwatch in 1998 and works as Regional Coordinator for the Caucasus since 2002. As the founder of the Tbilisi-based environmental group Green Alternative, Manana is the group’s chairwoman as well as IFI program coordinator. In 2004 Manana was honoured with a coveted Goldman Environmental Prize in recognition of her campaigning work on the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Manana graduated in 1994 with an MSc degree in Biology from Tbilisi State University. She is the author of several reports and other publications focusing on environmental problems."


Sanju Koirala

Senior Program Officer, Policy Entrepreneur Inc (PEI), Nepal

Dr. Koirala has 10 years of professional experience working at various organizations including the most recent one as a Senior Program Officer at Policy Entrepreneur Inc (PEI). Dr. Sanju Koirala currently serving as a board member of Center for Social Change. Prior to her involvement with PEI, she worked as a Research Manager with Social Science Baha where she managed the research projects on access to justice and migration. She has also collaborated with the Department of Geography, University of Otago and researched on Nepal-India hydro relationship. Beside this, over the last 8 years, she has worked on issues around education, youth, micro-enterprises, climate risk reduction and disaster management. She was involved with various organizations such as Alliance for Social Dialogue, Caritas Nepal, Nepal Institute of Development Studies, UNDP/Micro Enterprises Development Program and UNDP/ Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project. Dr. Koirala holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Otago, New Zealand, with particular focus on hydropower induced displacement and social safeguard policy reform in Nepal. She also holds an MA degree in Regional Development Planning, and BA in Development Studies from Kathmandu University, Nepal.


Dzifa Kumaga

Communications Officer, The Development Institute, Ghana

Dzifa Kumaga has been working with the Development Institute, an NGO based in Ghana, for the last 6 years. The Development Institute is an environmental NGO that works with local communities to protect mountain forest ecosystems, promote community based ecotourism and other forms of community based resource management including water resources management. She is the communications officer responsible for information management and general communications of the organisation. She also supports the organisation’s work with some of the networks and coalitions that the organisation supports. She is interested in women’s rights and development communication. She believes in the power of women to transform society and is ready to support any cause towards empowering women to achieve that goal. She is in the final stage of completion of her Master of Arts in Communications Studies from the University of Ghana.


Minket Lepcha

Teacher and Filmmaker, India

Minket Lepcha has been engaged with documenting stories and folklore based on ethnic communities of Darjeeling and Sikkim for years. She had an opportunity to direct a film called “Voices of Teesta,” through the Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management. The film traces the Teesta River from the source till the river leaves the mountain, and documents many communities along the river. Minket is an awardee of Young Green Filmmaker 2016 in Woodpecker International Film Festival, and the film also earned 10th position amongst 110 films in World Water Forum in Brazil 2018. Minket was also engaged in teaching for 4 years, where she experienced a massive gap between the education system and ground reality after her film experience. The lack of opportunity to educate local and traditional knowledge to the young generation was a concern. Having always been inspired by Lepcha folklore and believing that ecological wisdom are hidden in these stories, she has created a workshop based on the folklore of Himalayan Communities especially Lepcha folklore. She uses this workshop tool to inspire, influence and educate young minds to connect with river and mountains and provide an experiential learning towards their surrounding rivers and mountains. She has been travelling for the past one and a half years telling stories of rivers to schools and college students across India and Nepal. She wishes to disseminate this data in a form of a film or a blog in the future. Besides that, she is associated with various social work around Darjeeling and Sikkim region concerning the environment, such as the Sustainable Development Goals workshops, Free River Flowing campaign organized by International Rivers and ACT, and supporting local farmers and artisans.


Liu Jinmei

Environmental Lawyer, China

Jinmei Liu has worked as the Mekong Legal Coordinator of Mekong Legal Program of EarthRights International since 2015, focusing on Chinese Overseas Investment in Mekong region countries and South American. Before joining ERI, Jinmei worked as an environmental public interest lawyer representing pollution victims from communities across China. She is a graduate of the China University of Political Science and Law. After completion of her studies in 2009, Jinmei joined the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) in Beijing as a full time volunteer lawyer, putting into practice her dual interests in environmental law practice and public interest law. She has rich experience in conducting environmental tort litigation, environmental public interest litigation and administrative litigation in China; as well as in supporting environmental NGOs and communities to build their legal capacity.


Mirna Luisa

Member and coordinator, Feminist Collective for Local Development in El Salvador, El Salvador

Mirna is a feminist, teacher in local development, internationalist and specialist in feminist gender studies. She is a member of the Feminist Collective for Local Development in El Salvador, contributing to the axis of Feminist Economics and Environmental Justice. She serves as Coordinator of Projects on "Democracy and Gender Equity in Municipal and Community Management for the Human Right of Water", in Municipalities of the Department of Cuscatlán. In addition, she facilitates sensitization processes for the empowerment of women and recognition of their work in the care of life; in coordination with local governments, organizations and community water systems. She teaches project planning, formulation, and evaluation with a gendered approach and research techniques at the Universidad Luterana Salvadoreña.


Kanokwan Manoram

Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand

Kanokwan earned her Ph.D in Rural Sociology from University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. She also gained a Master of Rural Regional Development Planning at the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, and a Bachelor of Community Development at Khon Kean University, Thailand. Since graduation in 1997, she has been working in the Thailand and Mekong region in many fields such as water government, river basin management, and participatory impact assessment, cross border studies, rural development and agrarian change. Much of her work has involved policy recommendations on dam and irrigation management in Thailand and the Mekong region. She has been working with a recognition research network, M-POWER (Mekong Program on Water, Resilience and Environment Research) and is on the Steering Committee (2006-2015). Now she is working with Water Land and Mekong (2015-present).


Anuja Shrestha

Grant Making Manager, TEWA women’s philanthropic organization, Nepal

Anuja Shrestha has worked as the Grant Making Manager for the Nepalese philanthropic foundation Tewa for the last 7 years. With an the interest in social work, she completed her post grad in Sociology with a focus on gender studies. Working with Tewa has given her the opportunity to fulfill her desire to contribute to the empowerment of Nepalese women. Anuja oversees grantee capacity building trainings to support partners as feminist leaders. Anuja supports women working on diverse issues coming together to build the feminist movement in Nepal.


Sao Sreymao

Project Artist, Sar Sar Art Project, Cambodia

Sao Sreymao is a graphic artist and painter from Battambang province. In 2007, her first exhibition focused on women’s issues. Since then, her art has appeared in a range of books, graphic novels and other publications, including most recently a graphic novel called Your Story, My Story about the suffering of Cham and Vietnamese ethnic minorities under the Khmer Rouge.


Riska Subarja

National Coordinator, Indonesia Water Community of Practice (IndoWater CoP), Indonesia

Riska is a biologist with an interest in water pollution issues (in particular: toxic pollutant), and its impact to wildlife and women and children health. I’ve been working with communities to increase their knowledge and skill in monitoring water quality and performing lobby and advocacy for women and environmental health. I works for Ecological Observation and Wetland Conservation as research and program development manager. I also works for a consortium of 7 environmental NGOs named Indonesia Water Community of Practice (IndoWater CoP) as national coordinator. The consortium works on lobby and advocacy for cross cutting issue of women, health, and toxic pollutant. I believe that giving women knowledge and skill to protect themselves and their family will bring changes to their community and environment, for a better future.

Violet Matiru

Co-Founder, Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI), Kenya

Violet Matiru grew up on a farm in the outskirts of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Growing up surrounded by beautiful nature, Violet developed a passion for conservation and wildlife and also for working with women and girls to assist them look after the natural resource base that provides them with firewood and water for domestic use. Violet is currently supporting communities along the Athi River, that at 400 Kilometers, this is Kenya’s second longest river through the Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI) a local organization that she co-founded with others. As an advisor with the Global Greengrants Fund (GGF) from 2001 to 2018, Violet has been directing financial and technical support to groups along this river to rehabilitate riparian areas, conserve forests and reduce pollution by installing biogas digesters for human and market waste and promoting nature-based ecotourism. With GAGGA support, Violet is supporting several women-led initiatives to engage with policy makers at the county and national level so that they can provide an enabling environment for gender-responsive green growth. Violet is also an independent monitoring and evaluation consultant for diverse development agencies. She has an MBA from Colorado State University and a BSc. in Zoology from Baraton University, Kenya.


Samir Mehta

South Asia Program Director, International Rivers, India

Based in Mumbai, Samir works with regional partners to campaign against the construction of destructive dams in the Himalayas. He supports social movements and provides advocacy support to South Asian communities and NGOs. Samir was appointed by the Bombay High Court on a Committee to assess the impacts of development on the tidal movement of a coastal river in Mumbai. Prior to joining International Rivers in 2010, Samir worked with Bombay Environmental Action Group for over 17 years. He worked on environmental and town and regional planning legislation and developed an expertise on declaration and planning of ecologically sensitive areas. He was on several Federal and State appointed Committees. After obtaining his Bachelor's Degree in Statistics from the University of Bombay, India, he started his career in IT. Exposure to environmental activism in the west influenced his decision to change careers. He also has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.


Farida Nauberema

Social activist and blogger, Ghana

Farida Nabourema is a Togolese writer and blogger who began her career in activism when she was 13 years old. In 2011, Nabourema co-founded the Faure Must Go movement, which has since become a hallmark of the Togolese struggle against Faure Gnassingbé’s oppressive rule. Today, she serves as the executive director of the Togolese Civil League, a group that mobilizes pro-democracy activists. Nabourema is also the author of “La Pression de l’oppression” (“The Pressure of Oppression”), a book of essays that discusses oppression throughout Africa and the importance of women and youth in the fight for freedom. Nabourema uses social media platforms to spread awareness about injustices in Togo and to mobilize her peers to fight for change. She has been featured in the Nobel Women’s Initiative Activist Spotlight and was recognized by the Africa Youth Awards as the 2017 Advocate of the Year.


Nuzhat Nueary

Project Officer, Stakeholder Engagement for Water Cooperation, Oxfam Transboundary Rivers of South Asia Program, Bangladesh

Nuzhat Nueary completed her undergrad in Economics and Environmental Management from North South University and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree at University of Dhaka in Natural Resource Management. Her love for nature grew while she started doing field trips to different parts of Bangladesh and it took new dimension when she started advocating for human rights in natural resource management at OXFAM Bangladesh in their Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) project. Focusing on broader thematic issues like participatory water governance management, she is engaged in advocacy work for human rights in natural resource management. Currently, she wants to address inclusiveness in water resource management by ensuring strong representation of marginalized riverine communities and creating a platform for women leaders in water governance.


Betty Obbo

Communications & Publications Officer, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda

Betty Obbo is the brain behind all NAPE publications including NAPE Lobby and the website. Ms. Obbo also works on projects to improve the sound management of chemicals. She is a member of many networks including Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), International Pesticides Elimination Network (IPEN), Network for Sound Chemicals Management in Uganda (NESMAC-U) among others. Betty is also works with grassroot women in the campaign for Energy and Climate justice.


Dyan Oldenburg (Congress Facilitator)

Independent non-profit consultant

Dyan Oldenburg has worked with non-profits for over 40 years and is dedicated to helping groups meet their missions, realize critical impact, and manage change. Dyan founded Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC) www.trec.org in 1996. As executive director she developed and directed TREC’s programs. Dyan provided services to TREC clients for almost 20 years. TREC clients are committed to wildlife and wildlands protection throughout Western North America from the Far North to the deserts of the Southwest. Prior to founding TREC Dyan worked with hundreds of environmental and social justice nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada on a diversity of legislative, electoral and issue campaigns and on deepening the abilities to sustain the work to stunning outcomes. She helped them become stronger and more effective ensuring that they are better able to achieve their missions and visions for a different world. She is a graduate of Antioch College.


Bharati Pathak

Chairperson, Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal

Prior to being elected as Chair, Bharati Pathak was the General Secretary and Gender Focal Point of the Federation of Community Forest Users Group Nepal. She has been working for women’s rights and community rights over natural resources and for conservation for decades. She was also chairperson of ASHMITA Nepal, which is an NGO of Nepal working for the rights as well as empowerment of rural women.


Sohoan Phean

Project Manager, People Protecting their Ecosystems in the Lower Mekong at Oxfam America, Cambodia

Sophoan works across the Lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam to promote community’s rights to natural resources, gender equality in natural resources management and build community institution to protect the terrestrial and riverine ecosystems. Prior to managing this PEM project, Sophoan led the Oxfam America’s Extractive Industries Program and also served as Oxfam Regional Policy Advisor where she provided policy support to programs as well as led the campaign plan development and implementation to call for actions and regulatory response on issues related to climate change, social and environmental considerations in oil, gas and petroleum sector. She chaired the Governance Board of Live and Learn Cambodia, an organization that aims to reduce poverty and advance sustainable development through innovative environmental education and environmental management.


Claire Poelking

Program Associate, Conservation & Sustainable Development, MacArthur Foundation, USA

Previous to MacArthur, Claire worked on the Social Science Initiative team at Conservation International studying changes to protected areas globally. In addition, she has worked as a sea turtle researcher for the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program and as a GIS analyst for a small environmental consulting firm. Claire holds a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor of arts in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the American Association of Geographers.


Shreeya Rana

Program Officer, Policy Entrepreneurs Inc., Nepal

Shreeya joined as the program officer at Policy entrepreneurs inc., after completing her masters in Energy Planning Policy and Economics from Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand. Her key area of focus has remained economics since the completion of her Bachelors degree in Economics Honors from Christ University, Bangalore. She has had prior experience with development projects under DFID, USAID, World Vision International Nepal, in various scope and is currently pursuing her role in energy and policy sector.


Romina Rivera Bravo

National Coordinator, Citizen’s Movement against Climate Change (MOCICC), Peru

Romina Bravo is a journalist, anthropologist, and the national coordinator of the Peruvian organization Citizen’s Movement against Climate Change. Romina has campaigned on hydroelectric power plants in the north-eastern zone of Peru, in particular on the projects in the basin of the Marañón River, the second most important Amazon River, together with organizations of farmers and Awajún and Wampis indigenous peoples. Romina is currently working on the recognition, solidarity and mobilization of Peruvian organizations towards the Awajún and Wampis peoples in the defense of the Amazon and their rights. The MOCICC is a member of the International Committee and the Peruvian National Committee of the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum, a space that brought together more than 1500 people from 200 organizations in the nine countries countries as well as representatives of 30 other countries in 2017. MOCICC also participates in the Initiative of Defenders of Pan Amazonian Rivers along with other organizations in Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador.


Rudo Sanyanga

Africa Program Director, International Rivers, South Africa

Rudo provides advocacy and analytical support to African communities and NGOs working to protect themselves from the destructive impacts of large dams. She monitors proposed dams, helps communities affected by dams to seek reparations, and advocates for decentralized renewable energy options as alternatives to big dams. Before joining International Rivers in 2011, Rudo worked as an aquatic ecology researcher, university lecturer and an environmental consultant. She has conducted a major portion of her work on Lake Kariba and the Zambezi River Basin, based at the Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute, and later at the University of Zimbabwe Lake Kariba Research Station. She was one of the consultants for the EIAs for the Batoka Gorge Dam Project in 1997-98 and in 2010-11 consulted for the Dam Synchronisation and Flood Releases Project for the Zambezi Basin. As a lecturer she has taught principles of aquatic ecology, environmental sciences, water resource management and EIA methodology. She holds a Ph.D. in Aquatic Systems Ecology from Stockholm University, a Master's of Science in Applied Hydrobiology from the University of Wales, Cardiff and a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Zimbabwe.


Manju Vasudevan Sharma

PhD, Researcher, India

Manju has spent most of her career doing ecological research in tropical forests of the Western Ghats of India, and now works on community based conservation in Kerala. Under a grant from The People and Nature Fund from Keystone Foundation, her work focuses on asserting rights (Community Forest Rights) of forest dwelling people belonging to three indigenous groups, the Kadar, Muthuvar and Malayar, in the Chalakudy River Basin. Using the cooperative model of enterprise building, the project engages women in value addition of non-timber forest product (NTFP). In a span of less than two years, three women’s groups have been galvanized, demonstrating that local economies can be strengthened and dignified livelihoods can be found in their ancestral domain. The project hopes to demonstrate that it is possible to take on stewardship roles and use forest rights in meaningful ways, without jeopardizing the security of the forests and the river.


Chhing Lamu Sherpa

Vice Chair, TEWA women’s philanthropic organization, Nepal

Chhing Lamu Sherpa is a human rights activist working on gender, social inclusion, climate change and the environment. Ms. Sherpa is one of 1000 peace women across the globe, Vice Chair of TEWA women’s philanthropic organization. She is a founding member of Nepal Participatory Action Network (NEPAN), Mountain Spirit (supporter of mountain people and environment), SAGUN (search for harmony) and Imagine Nepal (Appreciative Inquiry Network) and associate with Kathmandu Women’s Climate Change Council of Nepal, Chandra Gurung Conservation Foundation (CGCF). Ms. Sherpa is originally from Finjoling, Tatne of Nametar VDC of Udayapur district, Nepal. She has an educational background in Rural Extension and Women from University of Reading in the United Kingdom, human rights and women’s leadership from FIMI global school and rural extension. She facilitates participatory management, developing leadership qualities in communities, institutions and building dignified equitable and safe working environments. She has played an important leadership role with various social organizations committed to women’s rights and participatory action, empowering women and marginalized mountain indigenous people.


Ayesha Siddika

Field Facilitator, Center for Natural Resource Studies, Bangladesh

Ayesha Siddika is a field activist in natural resource conservation. She completed her undergrad in Economics from National University of Bangladesh and has been actively engaging in community interaction in natural resource conservation issues for years. Currently, she is working as a field facilitator at Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS) in the Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) project. She wants to address the challenges faced by the women who are marginalized and greatly dependent on rivers for their livelihoods, by empowering women leadership through engaging women in water.


Socheata Sim

Water Governance Project Manager, Oxfam Mekong, Cambodia

Socheata Sim currently manages Oxfam’s Mekong Regional Water Governance Project, based out of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Socheata has experience working on women rights and gender equality and more recently supporting different affected communities, civil society, river networks in the Lower Mekong in protecting the rivers and the resources they depend on for their lives and livelihood.


Michael Simon

Director of Programs, International Rivers, Australia

Michael oversees the Program Section at International Rivers. With a background in environmental and social justice campaigning, he has worked extensively on rivers and water governance. With long experience in the Mekong region supporting civil society and community strengthening, he brings expertise in business and human rights, gender and indigenous peoples. Michael developed Oxfam’s Gender Impact Assessment Manual for hydropower. He has honors and teaching degrees from Monash University and a Masters in Integrated Water Management from the University of Queensland, Australia. He is also a graduate of the Prince of Wales Business and Sustainability Program delivered by Cambridge University.


Maite Smet

Program Coordinator, Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), USA

Maite is the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) Programme Coordinator. GAGGA brings together the Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM), Both ENDS and Mama Cash and their partners across Latin America, Africa and Asia (including Women´s Funds, Environmental Justice Funds, NGOs and community based organisations), with the aim of supporting grassroots-driven initiatives that are forging powerful opportunities at the local, national and international level for women to claim their right to water, food sovereignty and a clean, healthy and safe environment. Maite has been working with GAGGA since the beginning in 2016, with the role of developing and facilitating different planning, monitoring, networking and learning processes and spaces for GAGGA partners in more than 30 countries. Over the past nine years, Maite has worked on different international cooperation programmes, focusing on social and environmental justice, women’s rights and sustainable human development. Maite is Belgian and is based in Central America. She holds a Master’s of Science in Public Policy and Human Development from Maastricht University, The Netherlands and a Combined Bachelors Degree in Arts and Commerce, with a major in Languages and International Business from the University of Sydney, Australia.


Nur Syamsiyah

Member of National Committee of Indonesian Women Alliance (SERUNI), Indonesia

SERUNI is a women’s organization that brings together rural women facing threats of plantation expansion, mining, and urban development in their areas. As one of the pioneering founders of SERUNI since 2007, Nur has helped grow other SERUNI branches in many areas in Indonesia. Currently Nur lives in Riau Province, which faces environmental issues such as forest burning, haze disaster, and drought and floods caused by the large expansion monoculture plantation from a big company. SERUNI’s activities in Riau are organizing women living around palm oil plantations to support their capacities to fight for a better life.


Pauline Taylor McKeown

Mekong Regional Program Manager, Oxfam Australia, Cambodia

Pauline has 30 + years’ experience of managing teams of international and national staff and partners in development, advocacy and emergency programmes in developing countries across 3 continents. For the last 9 years she has led the development and management of Oxfam’s trans-boundary Water Governance programme in the Mekong (6 countries) and this has recently expanded into 3 additional countries in South Asia. Pauline has specific technical experience in Human Rights and safeguarding, gender, community participation and partnership brokering. She has experience of commissioning and managing research in the field and extensive representational experience at national government and international level. During her career, Pauline has served on several Boards and been Chair of a small NGO and a coalition.


Jessica Troell

Director of the International Water and Africa Programs, Environmental Law Institute, Malawi

Jessica Troell is a Senior Attorney and has led ELI’s International Water Program since its founding in 2006. Under her leadership, the Program has developed and implemented projects to create realistic mechanisms for involving diverse stakeholders in water-related decision-making; identify and implement innovative water governance mechanisms to strengthen resilience of communities and countries in the face of climate change; build the legal and institutional capacity to manage transboundary water challenges; strengthen livelihoods and food security through more effective water management; and ensure that water management is effectively leveraged in fragile and post-conflict states to promote peacebuilding. Ms. Troell works with NGOs, governments, the private sector, and universities to create, implement, and enforce sustainable water laws, policies, and management mechanisms. Ms. Troell is based in Malawi, and in also leads the Institute’s efforts on various projects in Southern Africa, including projects on land tenure, forest management and climate change adaptation. Prior to joining ELI, Ms. Troell was a law fellow with the Mandela Institute of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, conducting applied research on the implementation of catchment management in the Limpopo River Basin, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco.


Teboho Tsietsi

Researcher, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa

Teboho Mosuoe-Tsietsi is currently a visiting researcher at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa. She recently obtained a doctoral degree in Anthropology from Rhodes University in South Africa, prior to which she graduated with a Master of Sociology from the same university in 2014. Her research interests lie in the areas of development-induced displacement and resettlement (DIDR) and social accountability. Her current research focuses on the development of comprehensive resettlement policies in Southern African countries, particularly at the national level; and how such policies could be applied to not only protect the well-being of those often negatively affected by forced resettlement by development agencies, but also to give more decision-making power to affected local communities.


Dipti Vaghela

Network Facilitator and Manager, Hydro Empowerment Network (HPNET), Myanmar

Dipti Vaghela focuses on decentralized renewable energy solutions for marginalized, rural communities. Since 2006, in Odisha and other regions of indigenous India, Dipti's dual role as a researcher and practitioner has helped to synergize communities, local entrepreneurs, field-based NGOs, policy makers, donor agencies, and government stakeholders in implementing bottom up, learning-process approaches to community-based micro hydro initiatives. Building upon her action research in India, in 2012 Dipti helped to establish the micro Hydro Empowerment Network for South and Southeast Asia (HPNET), a practitioner's knowledge exchange platform to alleviate knowledge gaps that commonly cause project failures and to develop socio-technical standards and innovations, for robust micro hydro implementation. In 2013, supported by the Switzer Environmental Leadership Grant, Dipti served as International Rivers' energy solutions coordinator to research and promote policy solutions and regional networks that support people-powered development. She now coordinates HPNET and other change-driven implementation and research projects.


Wang Yongchen

Executive Director, Green Earth Volunteers, China

Wang Yong Chen began her career as an environmental reporter for China National Radio. She pioneered radio programs about the environment, encouraging public awareness and debate. As a journalist, she won several Chinese and international awards. In 1996, Wang Yong Chen founded Green Earth Volunteers , one of the first NGOs in China. Since then, her work has earned her accolades and titles, including that of one of Time Magazine’s Environmental Heroes.


Margaret Zhou

Partnerships Manager, International Rivers, USA

Margaret Zhou has served in various administration and organizational development roles at International Rivers. In her current role as Partnership Manager Margaret combines skillsets in

research, grant writing, storytelling and communications, and organizational management with a passion for building capacities of human rights and environmental movements. Prior to joining International Rivers, she served as a Communications Consultant and Administrative Assistant in start-up and non-profit settings, a research assistant working on migrant issues at the Chinese National Academy of Sciences Geography Department, and a journalism assistant for the CNN Beijing Bureau and an international public affairs show, Uprising Radio. As an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, she researched environmental justice issues in China’s rural areas and migrant worker's rights in Beijing, before writing her senior honor's thesis on China's Great Famine. She graduated with a major in Comparative Literature (emphasis in Chinese) and a minor in Global Poverty and Practice.