Dr Lesley Ann Foster, Executive Director of Masimanyane Women’s Rights International

Topic – The human tragedy of Covid-19: The role of civil society to reshape the future.

Dr Lesley Ann Foster is the founder and Director of Masimanyane Women’s Rights International. This is a feminist, equality and social justice organisation working to end violence against women and girls. She was recently elected to the President’s GBVF Board of Directors.

Masimanyane Women’s Rights International is at the forefront of work to advance gender equality and the human rights of women in African societies and globally. She has worked across the African continent and has programmes in nine African countries on access to justice. Dr Foster is a human rights and gender expert renowned for her work to end violence against women and advance women’s rights across South Africa and the world. Dr Foster was elected the first African president of Amanitare, a Pan African network of organisations operating in 28 countries on the African continent.

Dr Foster has worked in the Middle East and has contributed to the development of women’s groups in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Turkey and Egypt including training groups on CEDAW shadow report development. Dr Foster formed part of a Middle Eastern Task Team addressing the trafficking of women and girls.

Dr Foster has been acknowledged for her contribution to ending violence against women with an Honorary Doctorate which she received from Fort Hare University in 2006. She was also nominated for the alternate Nobel Peace Prize through the 1000 Women’s Nobel Peace Prize Initiative. She is an Ashoka fellow and has received many other national and international awards for her work to advance gender equality and to end violence against women and girls.

In 2019 Dr Foster was appointed to the Presidential committee addressing gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa. Dr Foster is currently the chairperson of the board of International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.