Keynote Speakers

Marai LarasiMarai Larasi

Marai Larasi is the Executive Director of Imkaan, UK-based black feminist organisation dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls. She is also the joint-chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, UK. Marai has worked in the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) field for over two decades, at both operational and strategic levels, and has developed and led cutting edge services and programmes which address violence against minoritised / marginalised women and girls.

Marai’s activism, teaching, policy work and overall practice are underpinned by a strong commitment to equality and social justice. She has produced papers for, and delivered presentations to numerous and varied audiences in the UK and internationally, covering a range of themes including EVAWG, women’s homelessness, and equality. Marai has contributed chapters to two books. She holds an MA in ‘Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity’.

Marai’s work has included, and been framed by, alliances with other Black and Indigenous feminist activists in different geographical spaces. This work has transformed her relationship with her own practice and approaches to EVAWG work.

Recognition for Marai’s work has included being voted one of the one hundred most influential LGBT people of the year on the World Pride Power List, 2013; and in 2011 being voted one of fifty of the most influential women in London in the last 100 years.

Rashida Manjoo

Rashida Manjoo

Rashida Manjoo is a Professor in the Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa. She was the convenor of the Human Rights Program in the Law Faculty where she teaches, supervises and advises students. She also held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences from 2009 to 2015.
Prof Manjoo has over three decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Her research interests include human rights broadly with a particular focus on women’s human rights. She has authored a number of journal articles, book chapters and reports on women’s human rights, violence against women, transitional justice, and also the impact for women of the recognition of Muslim Personal Laws in South Africa.

Natasha Stott Despoja AM

Natasha Stott Despoja AM

Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM is the founding Chairperson of Our Watch (the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children).

She is Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls and is responsible for high-level advocacy to promote Australian Government policies and activity regarding gender equality and the social, political and economic empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ms Stott Despoja has represented Australia at international meetings such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the APEC Women and the Economy Forum, the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women Peace and Security, the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, the G(irls) 20 Summit and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.

Ms Stott Despoja is a former Senator for South Australia (1995-2008) and former Leader of the Australian Democrats.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide.

Throughout her career Ms Stott Despoja has made a contribution to a wide-range of policy debates. During her political career, she introduced Private Member’s Bills on issues including paid maternity leave, the Republic, genetic privacy and stem cells, data privacy, and audio description and captioning services.

Ms Stott Despoja has an enduring interest in women’s leadership, particularly political and parliamentary leadership, and has previous experience as an election monitor in countries such as Nigeria and Cambodia.

In recognition of her service to the Australian Parliament, to education and as a role model for women, in 2011, Ms Stott Despoja was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

Ms Stott Despoja is a former Deputy Chair of beyondblue, a former non-executive Board member of The Burnet Institute, and has served on the boards of the South Australian Museum, the Advertising Standards Board and the Museum of Australian Democracy. She was an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia, and is an Ambassador for The Orangutan Project and the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma campaign, ENUF.

She is a columnist for The Adelaide Advertiser.

More great speakers to come. For more information, follow the conference on Twitter @AWAVA_women@OurWatchAus@WESNETAustralia@AusAWG or @Julie_Oberin

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