Between 1989 and 2017, a total of 324 human rights advocates from 90 countries attended HRAP. In recent years, advocates have ranged from early career advocates who have cut their teeth in very urgent human rights situations to mid-career advocates who have founded organizations.
Below are the biographies of current Advocates and descriptions by select alumni as to why they became human rights advocates.
To see a list of additional past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
Program Assistant, Disability and Human Rights Program, National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda
Solomon Collins Nkulinga is a Program Assistant with the Disability and Human Rights Program at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), an organization that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. NUPIPU engages with religious, cultural, civic, and political leaders in the region in dialogue around how to cultivate equal rights and access for individuals with disabilities through the enactment of national laws and policy. As a Program Assistant, Nkulinga is responsible for coordinating the Human Rights Project for Refugees with Disabilities, which seeks to improve the quality of life and the access to development services for refugees with disabilities. He has been involved with a mapping project aimed at linking refugees in Western Uganda with disabilities services.
In addition to Nkulinga’s work with NUDIPU, he has chaired the Persons of Concern working group in coordination with UNHCR emphasizing the levels of discrimination and stigma that refugees with disabilities face.
Nkulinga holds a bachelor’s degree in adult and community education from Kyambogo University.
Programs Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda
Pepe Julian Onziema is the Programs Director for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an organization focused on monitoring, coordinating, and advocating for the rights of the LGBTI community in Uganda through influencing legislation, challenging discriminatory laws, and spreading awareness on the status of human rights for individuals identifying as LGBTI in Uganda. As the Programs Director, Onziema is responsible for the coordination and administration of all ongoing programs, including the development, organization, and implementation of fundraising campaigns, mobilization initiatives, and advocacy work. Prior to serving as Programs Director, Onziema was the organization’s co-director and office administrator.
As a longtime advocate for LGBTI rights and as an out transgender man, Onziema is personally connected with the population he is currently serving. He was the recipient of the 2012 Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Global Initiative and received a GLAAD award in 2015.
Onziema holds a diploma in shipping and freight from Kampala College of Business Studies and the Advanced Certificate of Education from Makerere College School.
Marijana Savic is the Director of ATINA - Citizens Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-Based Violence. ATINA promotes women’s and children’s rights within the developing social and political environment of Serbia, specifically advocating for victims of trafficking, sexual abuse, labor exploitation, discrimination, and violence. As the Director, Savic is responsible for providing overall organizational leadership, engaging with new partners and grassroots organizations, and monitoring ATINA’s programs. In addition to her work with ATINA, Marijana has served as a consultant for international NGOs and state governments advocating for the inclusion of marginalized trafficking victims in human rights policy.
Savic received her law degree from the University of Podgorica.
Fundraiser, Tzedaká Foundation
Asaravicius has worked on human rights education initiatives at various foundations and NGOs. She previously served as the Director of International and Social Justice at Hillel Uruguay. In Israel, she worked in the media and culture department of the Peres Center for Peace.
After living in Argentina, Israel and Spain, Asaravicius recently returned to Montevideo. She is currently working on resource mobilization at the Tzedaká Foundation. She earned the BA in Social and Political Science at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay.
Human Rights Project Leader, Research Center for the Teaching and Learning of the Law
Asúnsolo is the Human Rights Project Leader at the Research Center for the Teaching and Learning of the Law (CEEAD). The center’s mission is to transform legal education in Mexico to train lawyers to be committed to the rule of law and human rights in Mexico. Asúnsolo and his team have created a working group whose members come from civil society organizations and public institutions like the Supreme Court, the National Commission on Human Rights, and universities to develop a human rights educational model for law schools. CEEAD is also developing two manuals including an e-platform for human rights education for law schools. Additionally, Asúnsolo volunteers with a migrant shelter and holds workshops so that residents can know their rights and learn about the legal system.
Asúnsolo holds a Masters in the Advanced Studies of Human Rights from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and a Law Degree and a Masters in Applied Public Management from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.
Founder and Director, Samsara
Hudaya is the Founder and Director of Samsara, a feminist organisation based in Indonesia that promotes body autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In 2007, she founded askinna.com, a website for women seeking abortion services in Indonesia. One year later, she set up Indonesia’s first hotline for safe abortion information. With Samsara, she works directly with women at the grassroots level. Hudaya also established the SRHR School in Yogyakarta and then expanded the program from Java to East Indonesia through the SRHR Satellite Program. In 2013, she received a fellowship from Ashoka.
Technical Advisor, Masaka Association of Persons with Disabilities Living with HIV & AIDS
Miiro is the Technical Advisor on HIV/AIDS, disability and sexual and gender-based violence for the Masaka Association of Persons with Disabilities Living with HIV&AIDS (MADIPHA). MADIPHA's mission is to promote access to comprehensive HIV&AIDS services by all Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) through advocacy, mobilization, sensitization and training. MADIPHA aims to fully incorporate PWDs living with HIV/AIDs into society through advocacy measures that center PWDs while targeting key government agencies, line ministries and civil society organizations like the Uganda Human Rights Commission. He has trained village health teams, health workers and police in sign language and held workshops about PWDs who are living with HIV & AIDS as well as SGBV against PWDs. He worked with the local government on anti-poverty initiatives such as obtaining a grant for PWDs to start village and loan revolving groups, and given PWDs goats, chickens, vegetable seedlings and coffee seedlings to generate income at household level. At a regional level, he worked with other stakeholders to lobby for changing policies that maintain exclusion and segregation of PWDs from society.
Miiro holds a post graduate diploma in community-based rehabilitation from Kyambogo University-Kampala and a Bachelor of Adult and Community Education from Makerere University-Kampala.
Programme Manager, NYARWEK LGBTI Coalition
Owiti serves as the Programme Manager and Advocacy Patron at the Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western Kenya LGBTI Coalition. The NYARWEK LGBTI Coalition creates spaces for dialogue on human rights advocacy and policies. Owiti is an expert in security and protection for human rights defenders in hostile contexts, especially LGBTQI HRDs. Owiti has initiated several equity and equality promotion initiatives at organizations for LGBTIQ persons as well as other NGOs.
Owiti holds a diploma in Project Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi and will graduate with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Maseno University in 2018.
Co-chair, Ukrainian LGBT Association LIGA
Semenova is the co-chair of the Ukrainian LGBT organization LIGA, which seeks to promote the interests of LGBTQ individuals, promote healthy lifestyles and diversity, and develop partnerships with state and civil bodies. One of LIGA-Ukraine's biggest achievements has been the creation of the Resource Center, designed to be a hub for young LGBT groups and organizations. Another core focus of LIGA-Ukraine is LGBTQ health, which includes HIV prevention programs for LGB, lesbian health programs, transgender health issues, and a network of friendly doctors. LIGA created the Public Centre on Monitoring of Human Rights Observation in Mykolaiv for monitoring crimes based on LGBTI-phobia. Semenova is a specialist in Public Relations from Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts and a general practitioner from National Medical University in Kyiv.
Democratic Republic Of Congo, 2016
Coordinator, Justice Pour Tous (Justice For All)
Raoul Kitungano is Coordinator of Justice Pour Tous (Justice For All), a local organization advocating for the respect of the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Corporations and Business with regard to human rights and the rights of indigenous people. Kitungano advocates for the natives whose rights are not recognized by extractive companies and for the respect of the UN standards of the Responsibilities of Corporation and Business with regard to human rights. He is also a member of the thematic group on mining that guides policy design in the province of South Kivu. Kitungano ’s campaign against modern slavery is moving forward in Walungu and Mwenga districts. He has also been often called upon as trainer or expert on human rights issues at the national and international level. Kitungano has published several papers and research about the relationship between mining; armed conflict and human rights abuses in eastern DRC, Electoral Monitoring, Mining Code Reformation, Land Conflicts and community land Protection. Finally, Kitungano has also served as a speaker at several regional and international workshops and conferences dealing with natural resources in Africa’s Great Lakes.
—Updated by Claire Kozik, Program Assistant, Summer 2018
National Women Coordinator, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association
Chairperson, PINK Armenia
Nvard Margaryan has been working for more than five years at PINK Armenia, the largest LGBT community-based organization in Armenia. Elected as Chairperson in 2015, Margaryan and her colleagues strive to create a safe space for LGBT people by promoting legal, psychological, and social protection and well-being. She also played a major role in the launching of an e-magazine, As You, which presents readers with issues related to human rights, sexuality, gender and other issues. Currently Margaryan is involved in women's rights movement in Armenia and is a board member of the Coalition to Stop Violence against Women. Margaryan is also a board member of the Non-Discrimination and for Equality Coalition in Armenia. In 2018, Margaryan participated in the Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders Network, Young Professionals Summit, and Brussels Forum. Margaryan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Yerevan State University.
Program Manager, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
Samuel Matsikure is a 2016 graduate of HRAP from Zimbabwe. He has been an LGBTI and minorities human rights activist for more than 16 years. He has been working in the sector on mental health, sex, and sexuality, STI management, HIV, SRHR, Human rights, capacity building, fundraising, management, research and writing on LGBTI issues. He is currently a programs manager for GALZ - An LBGTI Association in Zimbabwe.
HRAP had a major impact on Samuel’s progress in advocating for LGBTI rights in a turbulent environment. He says: “Since HRAP I have become the face and voice of LGBTI community through speaking on live community media shows, radio programs, by raising awareness on LGBTI realities, rights and violations that are experienced by the community, demand for social inclusion and recognition on LGBTI persons in Zimbabwe and Africa. The shows are broadcasted nationwide with over 15 000 live audience reaches per session. I have engaged over 70 Parliamentarians in Zimbabwe on LGBTI rights and the need to create policies and laws that protect the rights of LGBTI persons as equal citizens.” His advocacy efforts went beyond the national perspective and included engagement at the international level. Since HRAP, Samuel participated in the UN high-level multi-stakeholders meeting on Universal Health Coverage and at PITCH - the Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response - Summit coordinated by Frontline Aids on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health for Key Populations.
Samuel says: “The program gave me the determination to change the human rights landscape for LGBTI persons in Zimbabwe by engaging structures and people of influence within government, civil society and communities. I am more visible as a champion of human rights in Zimbabwe. I have also created a human rights page on social media to expand my scope beyond LGBTI rights. I have more networks and resource base I can reach out to for technical, financial, academic and mentorship support. I got a better understanding of local systems to work with on human rights advancement such as the Human rights commission, National Peace and Justice Commission, UN Human Rights Council, World Health Organization, UN agencies, and other human rights organizations in Zimbabwe and globally.”
When recalling the best parts of the program, Samuel notes: “The group cohesion and passion our class had were remarkable. I particularly appreciated the support we got from our director Stephanie Grepo [the Director of Capacity Building at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights] and the amazing and accommodating professors at Columbia University, including the leading professor of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Above all, the skills and knowledge we got are priceless.” Samuel keeps contact with fellow HRAP classmates. He even had a chance meet some of them in the framework of his advocacy work for the LGBTI persons’ rights globally.
Samuel’s current efforts focus on advocating for decriminalizing homosexuality in Zimbabwe, capacity building for parliamentarians, journalists and communities on LGBTI rights and the importance of social inclusion. Samuel recently enrolled in a master’s degree program at the Africa University to pursue human rights, peace and development studies and will be starting the program in August 2019.
- Article composed by Chiora Taktakishvili, Fulbright Exchange Visitor, July 2019
Communications Executive & Security Management Trainer, Defenders Protection Initiative
Mulshid is a 2016 graduate of HRAP from Uganda. He is the director of special projects and strategic initiatives at Defenders Protection Initiative. At the same time, he works as an associate consultant at Akijul (Enabling Change). He has worked closely with organizations to facilitate change management and other organizational learning and development processes.
Mulshid's areas of expertise include gender mainstreaming in organizations, people and organization, strategic management, human-centered design, humanitarian safety, protection and security management, the African human rights system, diversity and inclusion, advanced data analytics, digital transformation, and performance improvement.
He has also worked on specialized assignments in South East Asia, particularly in Cambodia and Myanmar, and across the Eastern and Horn of Africa, particularly focusing on project and program design, coordination and implementation.
Mulshid holds an M.Phil. in human rights and democratization in Africa from the University of Pretoria, and a B.Sc. with the Dean's Merit Award in Business Computing from Makerere University, Kampala.
- Article updated by Chiora Taktakishvili, Fulbright Exchange Visitor, July 2019
Legal/Program Officer, Uganda Network on Law, Ethic and HIV/AIDS (UGANET)
Betty is a Legal/Program Officer at Uganda Network on Law, Ethic and HIV/AIDS, an NGO committed to the development and strengthening of policies and ethical responses to HIV/AIDS in Uganda. She has headed the Kampala office since March 2011. She earned a bachelor’s of legal laws from Uganda Christian University in June 2008 and a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Center in 2009. An enrolled Advocate of the High Court of Uganda and other subordinate Courts, she is a member of the Uganda Law Society and the East African Law Society.