UAF-Africa Brief: The Crisis in Burundi

Posted on: November 26, 2015 Posted by: Urgent Action Fund - Africa Comments: 0

UAF-Africa Brief: The Crisis in Burundi


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BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI - JULY 23: Mother (C) of Emmanuel Ndayishimiye, shot dead by gunmen, mourns during his son's funeral service in Bujumbura, Burundi on July 23, 2015. He was a member of the opposition National Liberation Front. (Photo by Renovat Ndabashinze/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
(Photo by Renovat Ndabashinze/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


The ongoing crisis in Burundi is rooted in a difficult process of nation and state-building that begun in the colonial and post-colonial period. This stage was politically negotiated through a settlement on August 28th , 2000, popularly known as the Arusha Accords. Burundian women participated in the Arusha peace process, which was facilitated by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation. The latter supported an All-Party Burundi women’s peace conference between July 17th and 20th , 2000 in Arusha, Tanzania, attended by over 50 Burundian women representatives from 19 Burundian organisations.

They arrived with a set of demands, such as the inclusion of a women’s charter in the constitution, measures to ensure women’s security, women’s rights to land, inheritance and education, and an end to impunity for both gender-based war crimes and domestic violence. All of the recommendations, except the 30% quota for women at all political decisionmaking levels, were included in the final peace agreement. It is in the context of the Arusha agreement that the current President, Pierre Nkurunziza, began his first term in office through a parliamentary vote, constituted as an electoral college on August 19th , 2005.

The 2000 Arusha peace accords did not end the difficult nation- building process that has been exacerbated by the impact of protracted conflict seen in a tenuous land resettlement process, under-developed economic systems and a regime that grew autocratic over the years. The decision by the incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third presidential term, rather than a two term constitutional limit triggered violence that has lasted more than six months. The increasingly violent response by state security services is now met by worrisome reports of armed resistance. The violence has included assassinations, extra-judicial killings and disappearances—many of which target the political opposition and human rights defenders (HRDs)—as well as the forced movement of citizens to neighbouring countries and elsewhere.

Women human rights defenders (WHRDs)—and women more generally—have been involved in the public protests that reject Nkurunziza’s third term. As a result, some WHRDs have had to flee the country. With this brief, Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa) would like to frame its support to WHRDs in Burundi. The women’s led march that took place in downtown Bujumbura on May 10th in defiance of the regime ban on protests, was not only indicative of the mobilisation power of WHRDs around a collective push for peace and democracy but also the reluctance of the state to visibly deploy violent and repressive techniques against women. While feminists often caution against the assumptions – that frame such a regime’s response, that women are solely givers of life and politically neutral -, there are opportunities to strategically engage through the windows these responses open up, as long as the space is quickly seized to recognise women as actors in their diversity.

As a rapid response grant maker, UAF-Africa is keen to ground its support within local dynamics. The Fund would also like to leverage regional women’s movements in placing collective pressure for de-escalation of the crisis and political dialogue that includes WHRDs and responds to the gender-specific and women’s human rights needs both in the country and among the new refugee population. This collective pressure is aimed at political actors in the sub-region given that the East African Community (EAC) is still responsible for the externally mediated dialogue called for by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) as well as the United Nations Security Council. 


The Presidential elections rather than reducing tensions in the country have led to a general state of insecurity. While numbers remain difficult to verify, the United Nations (UN) indicates that as of November 23rd, 2015, at least 250 people have been killed and another 217,000 have fled the country into neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and political repression by security forces, as well as violence by youth militia affiliated to the ruling party continue4 . On November 24, 2015, Burundi’s Interior Minister suspended ten civil society groups, accusing them of fuelling widespread violence in recent months. These are groups that have campaigned against the incumbent’s third term. In light of ongoing events, there are scenarios foreseen by Burundian WHRDs.

SCENARIO ONE: “Collective Suicide: Facteur Declenchant”

The ongoing events in Burundi particularly the threats against citizens and hate speech by state operatives represent for some Burundians a regime keen to self-destruct and willing to undertake collective suicide. Those who subscribe to this scenario, see the actions of the regime – turning against citizens that view the current term as illegitimate – as indicative of the potential for the escalation of collective violence rather than de-escalation. In this scenario, a regime with little to lose carries the citizens along with it to pursue “collective suicide”. Observers indicate that the current environment in the country mirrors a country that can easily lapse into a civil war and what is missing is a facteur declenchant. The use of hate speech by state officials is rife and representatives of the regime are looking for an excuse to massively crackdown on the citizens in a final push to hold onto to power. A number of factors and actions point to the systematic use of violence to discipline opponents. It is this use of systematic violence and its organized nature that shape the collective suicide scenario. The first factor is an increase in disappearances, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings. The absence of accurate information about these deaths serves the objective of limiting the pursuit of legal claims around state responsibility. The second factor is the grey relationship between the militia – Imbonerakure – affiliated to the ruling party CNDD-FDD and security sector institutions. Imbonerakure have taken control of search activities along checkpoints in the country. This is not only indicative of rifts within the security sector, which has also included purging non-regime allies but also confirms the devolution of arms and light weapons creating a situation where the potential for wide scale violence fueled by non-state actors is high. The third factor is the closure of alternative media outlets limiting both public communication and collective mobilization efforts. The state is in control of the narrative outside the capital. The fourth factor lies in the fact that while stark ethnic mobilization for political ends has not worked thus far, socio-economic exclusion framed by ethnic undertones is on course. There are worrying rates of what appear to “random” group deaths with limited state accountability for them and failure to establish security even for those against the current regime. If these factors continue unabated, there is the likelihood of Burundi exploding into full-blown civil war under the watch of regional actors. This scenario is viewed as only possible when a suitable facteur declenchant is found.

SCENARIO TWO: A move from 100% inaction to Jumuiya

In this scenario, some Burundian observers see the potential of regional actors moving from the state of 100% inaction that has engulfed regional institutions such as the African Union (AU) and the East African Community (EAC) to one where these institutions invoke provisions within regional instruments. Of significance is the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Using regional norms and instruments as well as collective peer pressure will be designed to force the current regime to the negotiating table. In this scenario, the incumbent accepts to manage a transitional government of national unity. In so doing, he acknowledges that the elections were illegitimate in the eyes of citizens given that the conditions under which they were carried out cannot be considered free, fair and democratic. In this regard, the Museveni-led mediation process takes on a new responsibility of pursuing a political agreement with a clear road map towards elections that does not focus solely on political parties but brings together a broad based group of actors7 much like the Burkina Faso negotiations.


Both of these scenarios require a collective approach. In both instances, WHRDs who have been actively involved in organizing alongside other human rights actors need strategic responses in the following areas. The following entry points have been suggested by various actors engaged during the development of this brief:

  1. Engaging the Museveni-led negotiations: A process initiative by the EAC to engage parties to the conflict in Burundi is underway through the leadership of President Museveni of Uganda. As an existing framework, it would be critical for Burundian women to engage this mechanism not only for the purposes of inclusion but with a clear set of envisaged outcomes. Burundian women can also draw women’s organisations located in countries that belong to the EAC to place collective pressure on their governments and respective political appointees participating in the Museveni- led team.
  2. Geo-politics and the opportunity in Tanzania’s new presidency: Burundians feel let down by the collective inaction by regional actors. This inaction is obviously shaped by intricate geo-political dynamics that are influenced by historical ties between countries as well as the relationship between specific heads of states with Burundi. Some of these include an uneasy relationship between Rwanda and Burundi that has its roots in arguments around the active support of Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR)8 by Burundi. Tanzania who is historically perceived to have supported Hutu led rebellions, a Ugandan President that is deeply engaged in national elections and Kenya that is viewed as a fence sitter unless there is a direct threat to its national sovereignty. Connected to these dynamics is the ongoing conflict in the DRC in which many of the EAC states are implicated. However, the new presidency in Tanzania, despite the continuity in party (Chama cha Mapinduzi) presents an opportunity to catalyse different sets of actions within the EAC to impact the regime in Burundi. Tanzania remains one of the main countries that has hosted and continues to receive Burundi refugees.
  3. The alternative: Experiences from Tunisia and Egypt in particular offer recent examples of women playing key roles in mobilising and working for structural transformation and almost immediately witnessing a roll back in their rights not only within progressive spaces but also within the “new” state structures. While addressing the immediate cessation of violence, disarmament of militia groups and accountability for the killings must be at the forefront of any demands, the focus must also be on alternative candidates and groups that can play an influential role in any transitional arrangement. In essence, the women’s movement must begin to prepare for the pursuit of power as an outcome in this process.
  4. The role of supra-nationality: The AU has made some steps to respond to Burundi, including refusing to observe the presidential elections, ongoing negotiations with Burundi to deploy 100 civilian, military and police personnel by December 15th , 2015, plans for targeted sanctions against Burundian officials directly involved in promoting acts of violence, the continued negotiation to have AU human rights observers present in the country and African Commission on Human and People’s Rights’ request to launch a thorough investigation on the violations of human rights and other abuses against the civilian populations. However, there remains much more that can be done through its frameworks to lead to the outcomes desired by Burundian citizens. Burundi has signed but not ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. While signing does not commit a State to ratification, it does oblige the State to refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose. There are various provisions under this Charter than can be invoked. Action by the AU becomes more critical given Burundi’s continued role as chair of the AUPSC.


UAF-AFRICA: Catalysing Women’s Rights Action in the Burundi Crisis

UAF-Africa has a long history of supporting WHRDs and women’s rights organisations in dangerous, and fragile political and socio-economic contexts, providing support for their protection (physical, digital, legal) of WHRDs as well as organisational protection and catalysing evidence, analysis and advocacy efforts that capitalise on opportunities to advance and protect women’s rights. The Fund is supporting similar protection and advocacy efforts prioritised by Burundian women. UAF-Africa is reaching out to its networks, including WHRDs in Burundi and now in exile, and across East Africa, who are seeking to protect and support WHRDs and women’s organizations in the vital efforts they are undertaking at this critical time to curb violations, pressure for dialogue and engage the mediation. UAF-Africa is supporting women’s organisations now operating in a precarious environment, as civil society continues to be targeted by the Government of Burundi. Aware of the vital role played by Burundian women journalists in presenting alternative narratives to events as they unfold, and the gendered violations that occur, the Fund is supporting women journalists in presenting their views on the country’s crisis securely. Additionally, the Fund will serve as a platform for these journalists to voice their thoughts and opinions. We invite any women journalists who feel threatened and unable to document unfolding events under their own name to get in touch with the UAF-Africa team.


As outlined above, UAF-Africa is working with women’s organisations on multi-pronged strategies. The Fund is supporting the collective and individual efforts within Burundi, without whose resilience and perseverance the voice of Burundians would remain unheard. UAF-Africa believes that conflict in any part of the world is a conflict that affects every part of the world. It is therefore not just a responsibility of the people of Burundi to ensure a resolution to the conflict but a shared responsibility of the citizens of the world. UAF-Africa recommends that African Heads of States take action on Burundi to avert more chaos and death. The Fund further recommends that an inclusive, democratic, ethnic, and gender considerate solution be urgently found through the EAC mediation, to ensure accountability and justice. Finally, UAF-Africa recommends that more financial and technical resources go towards women’s substantive inclusion and gender-responsive outcomes from the EAC mediation.

Atieno Odhiambo
Atieno Odhiambo

Board Chair (Kenya)

Atieno is a professional with international legal experience advocating for rights of marginalized populations through policy and legal reform. She is currently the Director – Legal Empowerment Fund at The Fund for Global Human Rights. She is the past Chief of Party (Kenya) for Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) a global pro bono law firm that provides legal assistance to states, governments and civil society organizations. Before taking up her position at PILPG, Atieno worked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Prior to joining the Supreme Court of Kenya, Atieno worked on immigrant and human rights issues in Washington State at Microsoft Corporation, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Columbia Legal Services. Atieno received her undergraduate degree in History from Rice University in Houston, Texas and her law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Nancy Photo jpeg
Nancy Chitiza

Director - People & Culture

Nancy has worked in conflict and post-conflict African countries with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, (UNDPKO). Her career with the UN spans for 9 years, where she worked with the UN Agency UNWomen (then UNIFEM) in Liberia in her early career, she joined UNDPKO with the UN Mission in Liberia- (UNMIL), and later joined The UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). 

Nancy holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Zimbabwe and BA in Sociology and Economics from Africa University. She is a Certified HR Generalist Professional, with membership to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), which is the main professional body to accredit and award professional human resources (HR) qualifications. She has attained several professional courses in line with her area of expertise and is very excited about the endless possibilities at UAF-Africa. Nancy is passionate Pan-African Feminist who within her field of Human Resources Administration and Management pushes boundaries in support of feminist values, principles and work cultures in all aspects of her work. She has worked in the HR field for over 17 years and has gained extensive experience and professional expertise to successfully lead the UAF-Africa Team. Nancy works from Harare, Zimbabwe.

Njoki Njoroge Njehu

Board Secretary (Kenya)

Njoki is a committed grassroots organizer/mobilizer and activist. A Pan-Africanist, feminist, and popular educator, her expertise includes women’s land rights, gender justice, community rights, and environmental justice. 

She is co-founder & Executive Director of Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center (DOM), an independent non-ethnic, non-partisan Nairobi-based network.  Prior to her 2005 return to Kenya, Ms. Njehû served as Director of the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice & Campaign Manager (Toxic Trade Campaign) for Greenpeace International .  She has testified three (3) times before the U.S. Congress, on debt, HIV/AIDS and other crises facing Africa.

Njoki is the coordinator of the Pan-African Fight Inequality Alliance, Chair of the Board Urgent Action Fund- Africa (UAF-Africa) and Board member of Natural Justice. She has been profiled and widely quoted in print and broadcast media, including: Time Magazine, The Daily Nation (Kenya), The Financial Times (U.K), The New York Times, The Sankei Shimbun (Japan), The Washington Post, BBC, CNN International, and various radio & TV stations in Kenya.

Ndanatsei Bofu-Tawamba

Chief Executive Officer

Ndana Bofu-Tawamba is the CEO for Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF-Africa). She brings to the global human and womn’s rights movements a wealth of international experience across a broad spectrum of equity-focused issues. For over two decades, Ndana has built bridges between civil society and social justice funders to address gender, racial, socio-political, economic, environmental and climate injustices.

Ndana is a staunch feminist voice for enhanced womn’s rights investments. She has leveraged over USD200 million towards strengthening African feminist and womn’s rights movements. She is a published writer and public speaker on Pan-African and Feminist Philanthropies, African Womn’s Leadership, and the Power of Social Movements in Africa.

Ndana is an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the USA, University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa, and INSEAD Business Schools,  France and Singapore. She is a Senior International Fellow at the Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society at CUNY, USA. She earned her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Lancaster University, UK, and obtained her Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Social Psychology from the University of Zimbabwe.

Ndana serves on the Board of the African Philanthropy Network. Her leadership at UAF-Africa, the UN, academia, international civil society boards, and regional consultancies on philanthropy, human rights, social movements & governance has meant extensive engagements across the world, thereby presenting her the opportunity to weave her commitment to social justice with an opportunity to further explore womn and girls’ realities throughout the world.

Amel Gorani

Member (Sudan)

Amel Gorani is an international development specialist with a focus on countries in and emerging from conflict. Amel is the Director for the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Carleton College in . Minnesota. Before joining Carleton, she served as Inclusion Coordinator for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue – a peace mediation organization based in Switzerland. She has also worked for international development agencies, non-profit organizations and philanthropic foundations in Africa, Europe and the United States.She has served as Senior Advisor for Vulnerable and Marginalized Groups at the USAID- Sudan Mission and as Program Officer at the Open Society Foundations’ International Women’s Program and the Swedish International Development Agency Somalia and Sudan programs. She also served as Executive Director for Sudan Future Care – Amal Trust, an NGO working in war-affected areas in Eastern Sudan. Amel has worked on several countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, most extensively on her native Sudan and the countries of the Horn of Africa. Her work has focused on peace and security, political engagement, social justice and women’s rights. She has also worked on migration, integration and anti-discrimination issues, mostly in Sweden where she lived for many years.

Chiedza Muchena

Executive Officer

Chiedza is a Zimbabwean national with a wealth of experience in administration, having worked as an executive administrator in different capacities over a period spanning 6 years. During this time, she managed offices and operations of senior executives in various companies in the hospitality industry.

She is very strategic and intentional in her execution of tasks and her experience working in sensitive offices has honed her ability to plan, multi-task, and be extremely organized. She has amassed a wealth of experience working with high-profile personalities from various spheres of life including industry and commerce, politics, religion, and entertainment. Her interactions with people of different nationalities, and cultural and religious backgrounds have helped her appreciate the power of diversity.

Chiedza holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Women’s University in Africa, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing Management from the Institute of Marketing Management (South Africa), a Diploma in Marketing (LCCI), and a Diploma in Executive Secretarial (LCCI), a Certificate in Operations Management from the University of Cape Town and a Certificate in Management Development Skills for Executive and Personal Assistants (Zimbabwe Institute of Management).

She is passionate about her personal development and that of those around her and has a soft spot for environmental issues and human rights – particularly the rights of the girl child and minority groups.

Her other interests include reading and traveling.

Edmond Mugisha

Solidarity & Support Programme Officer-Sustaining AWHRDs

Edmond is a Burundian national. Prior to officially joining Urgent Action Fund-Africa in January 2016, Edmond had been working intermittently at the Fund in various capacities since May 2010 under the Grantmaking Programme. Edmond is instrumental in facilitating

the Fund’s outreach to and learning from Francophone women’s rights organisations and activists and in translation of English materials to French and vice versa thereby enabling Francophone grantees, advisors and partners to benefit from the Fund’s technical and financial support for the advancement of women’s human rights across the continent. He plays a major role in organizing UAF-Africa’s conferences/webinars in/for Francophone countries. His work experience at UAF-Africa has grounded his global perspective and developed his interest and awareness on different cultural, political, social and economic contexts.

His self-motivated spirit has made him set a target of speaking ten languages. Edmond is now fluent in French, English, Korean, Swahili, Kirundi, and Kinyarwanda and is currently learning Deutsch. He has enriched his language and translation skills by providing interpretation and translation services to various organisations including Fahamu, New Mark Group, and Elloca. Edmond holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Integrated Community Development from Daystar University-Kenya and a certificate of Korean Language efficiency from Kosin University-South Korea. He is currently finalizing his Master’s Degree Programme in Leadership and Organisational Management.

In his spare time, Edmond enjoys reading novels, jogging, cycling, watching detective and spy movies, making new friends, and of course learning new languages!

Joanne Mahinda

ICT & Database Officer

Joanne Mahinda is a Kenyan national. Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked for International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) providing technical support, diagnosing and resolving hardware and software incidents.She has a vast experience providing support for users of different software applications.Joanne also worked for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) where she offered administrative support to system users where she served as the first point of contact for service providers, suppliers, partners, and visitors.

Joanne holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from The Catholic University of Eastern Africa. She has more than five years’ experience in ICT customer support,the configuration of applications, infrastructure management, and information technology service management. She also has a professional certificate in Cisco Certified
Networks Associate (CCNA), Business intelligence and Data analytics Foundation. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Security and Ethical Hacking.

In her spare time, Joanne enjoys reading, jogging and providing life and career mentorship to young women.

Nyasha Chibanda

Office Assistant

Nyasha is a Zimbabwean national. She works as the hygienist, hospitality, staff and office orderly assistant in the Zimbabwe office where she runs the day to day office errands.She is highly motivated and is excited to learn and grow with the Fund.

She is a women’s human rights activist, and strong advocate for social and economic justice.
During her spare time, she loves going to church and enjoys morning jogs

Rosettee Nanyanjo

MEAL Officer

Rosette is a Ugandan national, passionate about women’s human rights with a focus on the adolescent girls and young women. She has experience in Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning and holds a Masters Degree in Monitoring and Evaluation from Uganda Management institute.

Her thesis focused on data utilisation for decision making in non-governmental organisations. Prior to joining UAF-Africa, Rosette worked as an M&E Specialist
for various donor funded programs including USAID and DFID. She has experience in setting up M&E systems, Performance based financing for grantees, capacity building,
and reporting writing among others.

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Jean Kemitare

Programmes Director

Jean is a Ugandan national, a passionate African feminist with over 15 years’ experience in the development sector in women’s rights programming. She has expertise and experience on gender equality & women’s empowerment with a focus on prevention and response to violence against women across the Sub-Saharan Africa context including program strategy development, capacity building for NGOs, advocacy and research.

Jean has been a practitioner at senior management level over the past 8 years leading strategy development for the regional GBV Prevention Network at Raising Voices from information
sharing to a comprehensive feminist movement building programme. Over the years this work has contributed to a rapid increase, interest and investment in addressing violence against women within the region and building a critical mass of GBV prevention network membership. She initiated a range of partnerships with regional feminist networks like FEMNET, INGOs like the IRC, Sexual Violence Research Center, UN Agencies, including UN Women in Uganda and at regional level and coordinated collaborations with feminist movement building organisations like Just Associates (South East Asia) and Intercambios Allianz (Latin America). She has served in advisory capacity on committees like the African Integrated
Response initiated by the Stephen Lewis Foundation and hosted by African Women’s Development Fund.

She believes in agency of African women to not only innovate solutions of pertinent issues affecting their lives but also generate knowledge for a global audience.
Jean is co-author of among other publications, Get Moving! curriculum a feminist organization transformation tool for addressing GBV and led a its adaptation to address sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in humanitarian settings in partnership with the IRC. Previously her work revolved around chronic poverty research, policy advocacy, and community-based HIV awareness and response.

She was instrumental in civil society advocacy for a social protection policy in Uganda. Jean completed a Masters Degree in Social Sector Planning and Management and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University Kampala Uganda.

Faith Macheke
Faye Macheke

Member (South Africa)

Faye has over 20 years of finance, operations and development experience. She is currently responsible for the strategic operations function at AWID where she upholds feminist principles and values.

Faye previously held a Head of Finance and Operations role at Paediatric Adolescent Treatment for Africa and Just Associates Incorporated Southern Africa. She also held Directorship roles for international Computer Driving License (ICDL) in Central and Southern Africa.

She also held Directorship roles for international Computer Driving License (ICDL) in Central and Southern Africa. Faye is a board member for ICDL in South Africa and P World Link Trust. She also holds a B.Compt in Accounting Science from University of South Africa and is a member of the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants.

Sharon Ngeno

Finance Associate

Sharon Ng’eno, is the first born in her family, a feminist, lover of people and believer in girls and young women potential to change their society. Her life has been greatly influenced by women who have positively mentored her throughout her life.

She appreciates and applauds girls and women’s leadership, strength, wisdom, courage and resilience. Education opened doors for her, and she wants all girls to get an education. She believes in Maya Angelou’s words in knowing better is doing better.

Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked at Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator for girls and young women as the Finance Associate and Grants and Executive Associate. She enjoys working in the development space because she has the opportunity to serve humanity in meaningful ways. She loves Finance and its role in realizing the vision of an organisation.

Sharon has a degree in Bachelor of Commerce, Finance option from Kenyatta University. She is also a certified Public Accountant Kenya (CPA (K)) and an alumnus of Moi Girls High School, Eldoret. She is passionate about her work as it directly touches and transforms the lives of girls and young women. Sharon is motivated by women who are breaking the glass ceiling and paving way for future generation of girls and young women leaders. She aspires to be the best version of herself every day and to thrive with others in the different spaces she occupies.

She loves reading, swimming and engaging in rich conversations with friends, especially her grandmother.

Pamela Mudhune

Director of Finance & Operations

Pamela is a qualified accountant with several years of experience in financial management, implementation of internal controls and financial reporting. She has been with the Fund since 2004 and heads the Finance and Administrative roles of UAF-Africa.

Her prior work experience includes working as a Financial Accountant at General Motors Ltd where she was exposed to various financial management roles within the Finance Department.She was awarded a Masters in Accounting from the Bowling Green State University, USA and earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. She is also a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya –ICPAK, and has undertaken short courses in audit, taxation and resource mobilization. Pamela serves on the Kenya Advisory Board of Global Education Fund.

Hiwot Tedla

Learning, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer

Hiwot is an Ethiopian; learning, monitoring, evaluation and accountability professional. Hiwot’s passion for Women’s human rights and feminism is deeply influenced by the strong women in her life.

She has a combined experience of working both for humanitarian and development organisation. She has designed LM&E systems and tools and managed data intensive programs. Hiwot has spent over 13 years working in learning, monitoring and evaluation with community level organizations, volunteers and donors.

Prior to joining Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-A), Hiwot served as Monitoring and Evaluation coordinator for Population Services International, where she coordinated LM &E activities for a multiyear USAID funded Transform WASH Project, implemented in 40 districts all over Ethiopia.
She has also designed the M &E plan, the M &E Scope of work and lead in the operationalization of the M &E system for more than 40 projects in Ethiopia and Djibouti. Hiwot has expertise in training and capacity building, program monitoring and evaluation. Hiwot while working
for the Danish refugee Council, she spearheaded the development and roll-out of a successful M&E system from scratch.

She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Indihar Gandhi National Open university and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management
from university of Gondar.

She is grateful to be a part of the UAF-Africa team and support the work of empowering Women’s human right’s defenders. In her spare time,she likes reading, cooking and traveling.

Zanele Mbugua

Feminist Republik Champion

Zanele Mbugua is an intersectional feminist who is passionate about womn’s rights advocacy, with a focus on lbtiqa+ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Rhodes University (South Africa) and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Development at the University of Nairobi.

She attributes her sense of feminism to her Pan-African roots having lived and schooled in South Africa. Through her lived experiences, Zanele has always found herself drawn towards womn’s, queer and gender non-conforming advocacy spaces; and continues to discover herself and her passion through these spaces. 

In her spare time, Zanele enjoys reading, hiking, and cooking.

Miriam Wanjira
Miriam Wanjira

Office Assistant

Miriam is a Kenyan national. She works as a hospitality focal person in the Kenyan office where she runs the day to day office care services. She has a keen eye for details and is a very cheerful person. Miriam is passionate about promoting the rights

of vulnerable grassroots women. She volunteers some of her time to local women empowerment initiatives in her community. She appreciates the need to provide support towards women’s human rights. In her free time, Miriam a mother of two children, loves to cook and take care of people around her.

Daphne Jena

Solidarity & Support Officer - SRHR

Daphne is a feminist who is passionate about women’s rights advocacy, with a special focus on Gender Based Violence, child marriages and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). She has over four years’ experience in feminist organising and women’s rights advocacy. Her advocacy and activism work prior to joining UAF-Africa centred on content creation using online alternative media for activism and human rights advocacy, with Childline Zimbabwe. She has been awarded various fellowships particularly focusing on Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights.

Her experience in strategic communications is evident in the work she has done with various online advocacy platforms including those focusing on women’s rights, children’s rights and human rights law. Daphne holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Media and Society Studies from the Midlands State University (MSU) and a Master of Science in Development studies from Women’s University in Africa. She also has qualifications in Project Management, Project Monitoring and Evaluation and Public Relations. In her spare time, Daphne enjoys reading, writing and travelling.

Melissa Photo
Melissa Wainaina

Feminist Republik Creative Facilitator

Melissa Wainaina is an African queer feminist based in Kenya heavily involved in African feminist spaces that advance women and girls’ holistic security and safety, collective care and healing justice. She has over 12 years’ experience in the non-profit sector

Having worked since 2006 mainly focusing on sexuality, gender and sexual rights.

Melissa also has experience in strengthening capacities for more rights-based approaches in transformative social change work. Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked at CREA, a feminist organization based in New Delhi, India where she led their programmatic work in East Africa. In this role, she had the honour to work with women’s and LGBTI rights collectives to strengthen feministleadership and movement building in global South.With an education background on gender and development, Melissa has a keen interest on the inter-relation between art and activism.She explores the use of art for body positivity, self-expression, resistance and self-care.As an artist herself, she enjoys writing, poetry, designing jewelry, crafts and photography.  She has authored work using pen names Sikiliza and Kamanzi Wainaina and runs a personal blog called Sikiliza Speaks for over 14 years. Her photography has been featured in the Global Fund for Women online exhibition called MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe.

She sits on the Board of Women Spaces Africa, a community based organization that promotes the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women with disabilities in Kenya. During her free time, Melissa enjoys trying out a variety of recreational hobbies and activities, she is an experienced landscaper and gardener, practices yoga, cycling and swimming and is now aspiring on how to learn river fishing.

Carol Werunga

Solidarity & Support Manager

Carol is a human rights activist who is not afraid of challenging the status quo when it comes to the representation and the participation of women and other minorities in the governance sphere. Carol is strong believer of human rights, and feminist principles and she is constantly working towards ensuring that these principles are respected and promoted.

For 10 years, Carol has worked in the human rights and governance space to ensure that marginalized groups such as women have equally opportunities both economically and politically to engage in decision making processes and live a dignified life. Carol has created spaces where women issues are openly discussed. She has a wealth of experience in capacity building, community organizing, coalition building and strengthening, creation of citizen agency through movement building, development and maintenance of strategic partnership, legislative and policy analysis, and evidence based advocacy at local and regional levels. Additionally, Carol has immense experience in grant management. She had managed grants from Ford Foundation, DANIDA, Swedish Embassy (Kenya), state bureau of Democracy for Human rights and Labor (DRL), Open Society Institute of East Africa (OSIEA), and United States Agency for International Development (DANIDA).

Over the years, Carol has been able to monitor and advocate for women participation in politics. For example in 2010, Carol trained women on their gains as espoused in the Constitution of Kenya that was promulgated the same year. In 2017, she developed a gender sensitive election monitoring tool that was utilized by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and its partners to monitor the participation of women during 2017 political primaries, voter registration and Elections Day.

Carol holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) and a Masters of Business Administration from the same university.

In her spare time, Carol enjoys watching movies, hanging out with family and friends, shopping and travelling.

Melizah portrait
Melizah Memena

Grantmaking Programme Assistant

A Malagasy national living in Benin, Melizah is a pan-African human rights activist in various parts of Africa. Proud to be part of the network of Young Francophones for the Promotion of the French language, she is a very active contact in the Francophone feminist movements, especially in West Africa and Madagascar. 

Melizah has a Master’s degree in marketing with a specialisation in Communication and the use of social media. After her studies, she deepened her knowledge in community development and has more than 7 years of experience in several international organisations. Melizah has been in the line of young women’s rights advocates and UNFPA activists in her home country Madagascar. She has advocated for young people from Madagascar in South Africa and Namibia. She then helped set up the communication for the Jeux de la Francophonie 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This experience at the heart of culture and diversity was a springboard for her career at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in France. She then contributed to the improvement and protection of children’s rights and women’s empowerment in the Republic of Benin within SOS Children’s Villages Benin.  Melizah is currently involved in promoting womn’s rights in Africa with UAF-Africa, and wants to make a difference.

In her spare time, Melizah likes to travel. Her discoveries give her ideas for vlogs and blogs that she shares from time to time with her friends and family. Melizah is also passionate about research and data, hence she spends much of her free time writing about the research she has done. She also has a website where she shares her research on sustainable development and women’s lives.

Mukuku Francoise
Francoise Mukuku​

Board Member (DRC)

Francoise Mukuku is a human rights activist and an independent consultant on women and sexual minorities’ issues. She has 20 years of activism. She is currently the Executive Director of Amazone Consultancy- a gender justice and communications firm based in Kinshasa, in Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC). Francoise works mainly in the Great Lakes Region (Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania) as well as francophone Africa (Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Benin, Togo and Senegal) where she has specialized in research and communications. In her consultancy work, Francoise has worked with organisations such as; Akina Mama wa Africa , APC, UHAI, UNECA and the University of Sussex, UK. Francoise is an engaged activist who founded SJS, a DRCongo inclusive young feminist group in 2001. She regularly organises trainings in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Agency and Voice, and is passionate particularly on the intersections that exist between development, human rights and social justice. Prior to being an independent consultant, she worked for renowned organisations such as Oxfam GB, MONUC/MONUSCO (UN Peacekeeping Mission in DRCONGO) and International Music Council (IMC). Francoise has good language skills; she speaks Lingala, Kiluba, Kibembe, Kiswahili, French, English and working knowledge of Spanish. She holds a BA in public law from the Université Protestante au Congo (2005) and a MA from Mercure International (2012). Francoise is a storyteller who enjoys traveling, reading books and the performing arts.