Claiming our stories,

Raising our voices 2021 

Women Leaders Online Conference

“Claiming our stories, Raising our voices” brings together a host of partners to reset storytelling by giving a platform for young women leaders to share their stories and lessons for the new year.

On Thursday, January 21, 2020, 6am to 6pm SAST, we will join young leaders from across the globe in a series of talks, expert presentations and case studies to review best practices in communicating our stories for change.

The 12-hour online conference is targeted at— but not exclusive to — young women and gender non-conforming people in journalism, advocacy, communications, social media and leadership.

The conference itself is designed so that participants can come in and out during the day — with completed sessions uploaded immediately social media sites. As much as possible, each session will capture lessons learned.

The conference will have four themes:

  • Using Social Media for Change (including online security)

  • New ways of telling our stories

  • Harnessing technology for community

  • Communication in Leadership

Join us as women across the globe emphasise that they are speaking. And that they will speak truth to power despite the odds. 

The conference pace is deliberately fast and accessible for sharing on social media. Its hashtags include #ourstoriesourvoices2021 and #imspeaking2021. Look out for more information on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Keynote Speaker

Gulchehra A. Hoja

Gulchera was born on June 17, 1973 in Urumqi East Turkestan(Xinjiang China ) and is a Uyghur journalist, reporter & TV anchor with 25 years experience.

She graduated from Xinjiang Normal University in Urumqi City, 1996 and began her career at Xinjiang TV where she created the first ever Children TV program in the history of Uyghur Region.

Gulchera joined Radio Free Asia in 2001.

She is the recipient of the Sergei Magnitsky award recognized as Outstanding human rights activist 2019.

She also received the David Burke distinguished journalist award 2020 at RFA and the IWMF Courage in Journalism award 2020.


Saleeha Bamjee

Writer and Photographer

Saleeha has an MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University and is the winner of the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize. Her debut collection, Zikr (uHlanga Press, 2018} won the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize.


Access her work online at

Aidila Razak

Special Reports  Editor at Malaysiakini

Aidila Razak is Special Reports Editor at Malaysiakini. She has been a journalist for 11 years.

She is passionate about social justice, human rights and good governance and likes exploring using data and technology to discover new ways of doing journalism. 

Chipo Bangira

Chipo Bangira is a Zimbabwean feminist who has been active in the development sector  .


She is the Feminist and Transformational Leadership Manager at Akina Mama wa Afrika working on women’s leadership and policy advocacy.

Feminist & leadership manager

      Akina Mama wa Afrika

ElsaMarie D'Silva

ElsaMarie is the Founder & CEO of Red Dot Foundation (India) and President of Red Dot Foundation Global (USA). Its platform Safecity, crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. ElsaMarie is a 2020 IWF Fellow and a Gratitude Network Fellow, 2019 Reagan Fascell Fellow, a 2018 Yale World Fellow.

CEO Red Dot Foundation

Cally Cheung

COO Prout

Cally Cheung is the Co-founder and COO of Prout which aims to build safer spaces to help connect and champion a healthier LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. 

Karla Ruiz Cofiño

Digital Strategist, Social Media Specialist & Technology Ethics Enthusiast.

Entrepreneur, International Speaker, Social Activist & Woman Advocate.

Dedicated to help leaders connect with the world and use their influence to improve it!

Digital Strategist

Fungai Machiori

Fungai is a researcher and writer focusing on digital storytelling, identity politics and  feminism. She is also founder of Her Zimbabwe, an award-winning digital platform and organisation – which explored Zimbabwean women’s online storytelling and activism in the years it operated between 2012 and 2017. 

Writer and Researcher

Hera Hussain

Hera is the Founder of CHAYN - a global volunteer-run project crowdsourcing resources on the web to address gender-based violence. Chayn has reached more than 360 000 people through its resources which are designed with survivors of abuse. She was born in Scotland, raised in Pakistan and is now living in the UK.

CHAYN Founder, Pakistan

Koketso Moeti

Koketso is a founding member of the African Digital Rights Network and an expert advisor of the World Economic Forum's 'Partnering with Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution' initiative.  She is a 2019/2020 Atlantic fellow for racial equity. She is also part of the inaugural class of Obama Foundation fellows and an Aspen New Voices senior fellow.

Executive Director

Moky Makura

Moky has also been the Deputy Director for Communications Africa at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2017. Moky has an Honours degree in Politics, Economics and Law from Buckingham University. She serves on the advisory boards of three non-profits including Junior Achievement Africa and the Houtbay Partnership and was recently appointed to the board of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Executive Director  Africa No Filter  

Penelope Sanyu

Penelope is a fearless influencer, feminist, vlogger, disrupter and unconditional lover. She stewards the team at Femme forte Uganda and is excited to start fires that will help young women imagine, create and teach possible futures in their immediate communities.

Penelope has a wealth of knowledge working with Civil Society, she leads the team at Femme Forte Uganda, a feminist entity seeking to break barriers and reach new heights for women in Uganda.

Femme Forte Chief Steward, Uganda

Nirmika Singh

Nirmika is also an accomplished poet and lyricist and has collaborated with celebrated composers such as A.R. Rahman and Clinton Cerejo.

As the editorial head of Rolling Stone India since 2015, Nirmika spearheaded the rebranding of the cult magazine to reflect a more youthful, contemporary and pop culture-centric approach in both its print and digital avatars. 

Executive Producer Rolling Stone India

Phinah Kodisang

Phinah has a Master’s degree in social development and a passion for youth. She is an outspoken gender activist and in her work at Soul City she continues to raise awareness of issues facing women and young girls and for advocating that those in positions of power be held accountable for their role in addressing these issues. She is a proud single mom of two – a daughter and a son and proudly wears the label Feminist

CEO Soul City Institute

Rosebell Kagumire

Rosebell is a Ugandan feminist writer, activist and media specialist. She is the curator and editor of African Feminism, an online writing platform that brings together feminist writers and activists across Africa. She recently co-edited a book: Challenging Patriarchy: The Role of Patriarchy in the Roll-Back of Democracy. Rosebell was honored with the Anna Guèye 2018 award for her contribution to digital democracy, justice and equality

Editor Uganda

Tamara Abdel-Jaber

Tamara is an expert in strategy design and execution, business transformation and project management. She serves as the elected Chair of the Global Institute of Certified Management Consultants. Tamara co-founded the Women in Business Arabia network and is also a part of the VV100, a group of 100 of the most engaged and visionary members of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network.

CEO Palma Consulting Jordan

Sarah Owusu

Sarah is co-founder of a boutique innovation consultancy firm – InkDot – focused on making innovation real, practical and possible both for corporates and to drive social change. She has worked with clients such as ABSA, Standard Bank, VALE, YBI, ideiaLab, Africa 2.0, Astraea Foundation,

She holds a MA in Philosophy, speaks English, Portuguese and Danish and is an Integral Coach. 

Inkdot Co-founder

Zar Ni

Zar Ni has more than nine years’ experience as a multimedia journalist, as an editor and deputy chief reporter for Myanmar National Television and as a video journalist for Up to Date Channel.

She has strong management and interpersonal skills, having overseen the Doh Athan podcast for the past three years.

Senior Producer Frontier Myanmar

Mia Malan

Mia has 25 years of journalism, fundraising and institution-building experience in legacy media and digital native publications.

She has grown Bhekisisa from a specialist desk at a legacy outlet (the Mail & Guardian) to an independent non-profit over the past seven years.

She’s a former Knight International Journalism fellow of the International Centre for Journalists.

Executive Director Bhekisisa

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Laxmi leads global operations across each Global Press brand, spearheads the global expansion strategy to build new bureaus, and develops new partnership strategies to bolster the organization’s reach and long-term sustainability. Laxmi holds a Master’s degree in Media, Communications and Development from the London School of Economics and did her undergraduate studies at Carleton University, where she was named one of Canada’s Top 20 under 20. She lives in Washington, D.C.

COO Global Press

Emeline Fonyuy

Emeline is an investigative journalist from Cameroon. She has covered rare angles of the deadly minority identity crisis in Cameroon and the incidence of Covid-19 on an already crisis struck country. Her early years in women’s rights advocacy have earned her the position of communications officer for a women-led NGO known as Leap Girl Africa.

Producer "Black Truth With Emeline"

Yene Assegid

Yene has 28 years experience in leadership andpersonal development.  She is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and holds the credential of Master Certified Coach, “MCC”. In 2020 she launched a global online leadership development program for young women, EveryonesWorld Leadership Foundation Program, ELF Program, (

Director ELF, Ethiopia

Zanele Maphosa-Makombe

Zanele is a social justice activist with over 18 years progressive experience in supporting adolescent and youth programmes, sexual and reproductive health, and rights (SRHR), gender, & HIV/AIDS programmes.

She is an experienced gender and Sexual and Reproductive health and rights SRHR advisor. 

@Zamakombe @ActUbumbano.

Advisor ACT Ubumbano

Tran Le Thuy

Tran holds an M.Phil in Development Studies at University of Oxford & a B.A in Journalism. She was a journalist fellow at Reuters Institute at University of Oxford in 2008-2011. She was Young Development Journalist of the year in Developing Asia Journalism Award in Tokyo 2004 and winner of Panos London/GKP journalism award in United Nations’ information society summit, 2005"

Director Centre for Media & Development Initiatives, Vietnam

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker

Rebecca is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is a former editor of the Mvskoke News, and currently serves as president of the Mvskoke Media Editorial Board. She was a recipient of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s “Native American 40 Under 40” award in 2018.

Executive Director Native American Journalists Association

Dr. Julie Posetti

Dr. Julie Posetti is an internationally published journalist and academic and leads the Journalism and the Pandemic Project at the ICFJ. She also co-leads the #HoldTheLine Coalition that campaigns on behalf of prominent American-Filipino journalist Maria Ressa.She has three decades of high-level international journalism experience with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Global Director/Research ICFJ

Jacqueline Musiitwa

Jacqueline previously served in various leadership capacities at Rio Tinto, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB Group), WTO, International Finance Corporation serves on the board of the International Rescue Committee UK.Jacqueline holds a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne.

International Regulatory Attorney

Heba Aly

A multimedia journalist by training, Heba spent one decade reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia before moving into management.  Her recent TEDx Talk – "Stop Eating Junk News". She is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on the Humanitarian System and, in 2018, was named one of 100 Young Global Leaders under 40.

Director The New Humanitarian

Aissatou Barry

Je m’appelle Aissatou Barry, j’ai 27 ans. Je suis journaliste et référente de la Fondation Hirondelle dans le cadre du programme Infos Covid19 en Guinée. J’ai fait des études de journalisme à l’Institut Supérieur de l’information et de la communication (ISIC de Kountia) à Conakry. Passionnée de journalisme, depuis 2015 je collabore avec la Fondation Hirondelle.

Fondation Hirondelle Guinea

Rafa Mismar

Rafa has a masters degree in democracy and human rights and a BA in journalism.

She was born in Nablus north of West bank but works in Ramallah. She established a woman's advocacy group to implement the Security Council adopted resolution on women and peace and security. Rafa has worked with on projects funded by USAID in promoting peace working with both Palestinians and Israelis.

Media Trainer Palestine

Judith Okonkwo

Judith is a Technology Evangelistt and Organisation Development Consultant with experience working in Africa, Asia and Europe.  She sits on the Board of the European Organisation Design Forum. Judith is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Judith is a current member of the WEF Global Future Council for Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Co-founder We Will Lead Africa

Kate Doak 

Kate loves finding great news stories and giving them a life of their own both on Television and online. Whether it’s creating havoc in Australian politics, unearthing corruption and human rights abuses or warming people’s hearts with stories about premature babies, Kate relishes how her job ensures that she never stops learning.

Kate used her skills as a researcher to uncover a major exclusive for 10 during Australia’s change of Prime Ministers in August 2018.

Producer 10 News First 

Pearl Lawrence

Pearl She has a BA(Hons) in International Business from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology where she was tenured as Student Ambassador and earned a Tan Sri Dato Limkokwing award for Leadership. She established "She’s Outta Your League (SOYL)" which has a purpose of
equipping women and adolescent girls with life, mentorship and leadership skills and gives them a platform to voice out social concerns and eradicate being tamed by societal chauvinism.

Vice President Transform Lesotho Initiative

Paula Fray

Paula Fray has worked in media for more than three decades as a journalist, editor, trainer and media manager. She is the CEO of frayintermedia. 

CEO frayintermedia 

María José Calderón

María José Calderón is a researcher of Internet studies, social media and methodology. Her interests are focused on the political changes of society with the use of Internet. She is a professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and also a consultant currently based in Quito, Ecuador.

Professor at Pontifical Catholic University of Equador 

Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn

Kerry-Jo has worked as development specialist for over 20 years with a particular passion for strategic partnerships, planning, innovative program design, social enterprise and foreign policy. At the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice she has been responsible for managing and successfully closing out the first ever federal grant supporting global LGBTI communities and organizations, providing over $3.5M in grants to LGBTI activists in 12 countries.

Director LGBTI Global Human Rights Initiative 

Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn

Kerry-Jo has worked as development specialist for over 20 years with a particular passion for strategic partnerships, planning, innovative program design, social enterprise and foreign policy. At the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice she has been responsible for managing and successfully closing out the first ever federal grant supporting global LGBTI communities and organizations, providing over $3.5M in grants to LGBTI activists in 12 countries.

Director LGBTI Global Human Rights Initiative 

Dulamkhorloo Baatar

Dulamkhorloo Baatar has a decade of experience in journalism including reporting, producing and managing. She has covered economics, finance and innovation and is now using her communication skills to help raise awareness about some of the most pressing social issues in Mongolia, including gender equality, GBV and human-trafficking. She co-founded the Mongolian Fact-checking center and she is CEO of Nest Center for Journalism Innovation and Development NGO.

 Editor, Mongolian Fact-checking Center 

Gisela Pérez de Acha

Gisela is a journalist focused on digital forensics and investigative reporting. She is a trained human rights lawyer with master's degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley where she teaches cybersecurity for upcoming journalists. Gisela is also a Senior Reporter on the extremism beat at the Investigative Reporting Program and part of an Emmy award-winning team at the New York Times for her collaboration on the story about The Siege of Culiacán.


María Teresa Ronderos

María is the director and co-founder of the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism (CLIP). She founded and directed VerdadAbierta which  investigated the war in Colombia. Her latest book is best-seller Guerras Recicladas (2014), about the history of paramilitarism. Her investigative journalism career has been recognised with the “journalist of the year” Simón Bolívar Colombian national award, the Maria Moors Cabot and the King of Spain awards. 

Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism 

Elisa Lees Muñoz

Elisa leads the organization to achieve its mission to support women journalists to develop their careers by providing training, tools and assistance so that they can work as safely as possible. She enhances the IWMF’s brand, and delivers the annual Courage in Journalism and Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Courage in Photojournalism Award.

Executive Director IWMF

Xochiketzalli Rosas Cervantes

Co-director of Factual, a mexican organization dedicated to creating networks between media organizations and journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean. She collaborates with journalists in investigations including "# PasóEnLaU" which dealt with sexual harassment in Latin American universities and "Violence during Quarantine",  about GBV during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-director  Factual

Nobuhle Virginia Ajiti

A few years ago Nobuhle was gang raped,stabbed multiple times and thrown out of a moving car.

 On her painful road to recovery, she discovered that as a foreign woman in SA, she did not receive the same treatment, medically or psychologically, meant for rape survivors. This motivated Nobuhle to work for include Sonke Gender Justice, Rise Up Against Gender Based Violence, Johannesburg Inner City and many other NGOs. 

Human Rights Activist

Alexandria James

I am a recent graduate from the Wits School of Arts where I completed a BMus majoring in composition and community music. I am a singer and pianist. I am not a ‘female musician’, I am a musician.


Phumi Mtetwa

Phumi is an activist working on economic, gender and LGBTI issues across the world. As a former Co-Secretary General of the International Lesbian and Gay Association she contributed in bringing issues of concern in the global South to the organisation, including creating the LGBT South-South Dialogue, that strongly contributed LGBTI perspectives in the processes of the World Social Forum.

Regional Co-Director JASS Southern Africa

Eva Sander

Eva specializes in creating content strategies for multiple distribution channels and focuses on audience development by leveraging opportunities from the social economy. She has more than 20 years experience designing, executing and measuring communication strategies for world-class companies, institutions, governments, and NGOs, both in Mexico and abroad

Country Director Accountability Lab


Jamila Headley

Jamila is the chief of staff at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) dedicated to advancing a racial justice, economic justice, and pro-immigrant, pro-worker agenda by working to build a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact-base building organizations in 35 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Jamila has a doctorate in Public health and a masters in global health from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Chief of staff Centre for Popular Democracy


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