“As a feminist and human rights advocate from the Global South, I am most excited about working in partnerships to amplify feminist voices”: Melissa Upreti

Melissa Upreti

2018 is around the corner and change is in the air! FAR is ready for renewal and revival in the new year. CWGL’s Senior Program Director Melissa Upreti will take over FAR’s programmatic leadership. Find out more about Melissa and her vision for FAR.

Tell us what your role is here and what you will be doing?
I have joined CWGL as the Senior Director of Program and Global Advocacy. As part of the leadership team at CWGL, I will oversee and guide the implementation of CWGL’s multi-year strategic plan. My background is in international human rights law and reproductive justice as well as transnational women’s rights advocacy, and building on these key areas, I will have the opportunity to develop some new areas of work.

What excites you about joining the team of CWGL? What is your vision for FAR in 2018?
I am very excited to be working with a dedicated and talented multi-generational team of feminist advocates at CWGL. The organization has a long and illustrious history of feminist advocacy and I am excited to build on that legacy.

I am particularly excited about looking at intersectionalities in the areas of economic rights, reproductive rights, the role of women in peace building and exploring new ways to bridge national and regional advocacy with global advocacy, particularly within the UN Human Rights system and via formal accountability mechanisms.

As a feminist and human rights advocate from the Global South, I am most excited about the opportunities that we will have to work in partnership with feminists and activists from different fields, to amplify feminist voices in national, regional and international spaces.

My vision for FAR is geared toward realizing the transformative potential of women’s shared lived experiences, voices, and expertise, which must be leveraged and channeled in key political spaces to bring about positive and lasting change for women. As a human rights lawyer, to me this means achieving substantive equality and eliminating gender-based violence, and discrimination.

In 2018, FAR will undergo a transition as it welcomes four new members on the steering committee. Building on what we know, we will convene to take stock of current opportunities for meaningful feminist advocacy in key areas and focus on building the capacity of our members to use legal advocacy in combination with other strategies, to tackle deeply entrenched and systemic gender-based discrimination in specific countries and communities.

How does your many years of working on reproductive justice at CRR inform/influence your work as a feminist advocate for human rights?
The greatest take-away from my 16 years at the Center for Reproductive Rights is the firm belief that women’s agency and bodily integrity lie at the heart of their ability to live with dignity, exercise their human rights and realize their full potential.

The law is a powerful tool for dismantling structural discrimination against women and girls and advancing substantive equality. If we ignore it, we risk ceding its use to those who would misuse and exploit it to suppress women, and maintain the power imbalance that underlies patriarchy.

As such, we need to work with each other to build our political presence and influence in key spaces. We must use all the tools at our disposal to challenge inequality and discrimination, and assert our rights as women in order to transform society and the systems that govern our lives.

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