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About CWGL

The Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) was founded by feminist activist Charlotte Bunch as a project of Douglass College in 1989. CWGL is affiliated with the School of Arts and Sciences, at Rutgers University. It is also part of the Office of International Programs and a member of the Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL) that connects sister institutes and centers that are committed to the progress of women at the university.

CWGL has been instrumental in fostering women's leadership in the area of human rights through leadership institutes, international mobilization campaigns, including the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, strategic planning activities, United Nations monitoring and advocacy, publications and development of a resource center. The Center has trained a generation of women leaders from all regions of the world to use the human rights framework to achieve strategic objectives.

The global women's movement is a significant force in international policy arenas, bringing women's experiences and feminist analyses to issues such as development, peace, health, the environment, gender equality and human rights. Recognition of the importance of women's rights as human rights and of the seriousness of the abuses experienced by women and girls worldwide has been a central component. Within this context, CWGL has been a central player in the transformative endeavor of demanding respect for the rights of all women.

Under the leadership of Radhika Balakrishnan, who assumed the post of executive director in 2009, CWGL expanded its programming to include a focus on economic rights and justice from a feminist perspective, including work to facilitate and disseminate feminist analyses of economic and social rights and macroeconomic policies to better inform the work of civil society organizations and policymakers at the international and national levels. CWGL is viewed as a leading feminist institution engaged in economic and social justice work and has, as a result, gained entry into a dynamic and unfolding dialogue extending from the grassroots, to the academy, up to the highest levels of the United Nations. In 2015, Radhika Balakrishnan transitioned to the role of Faculty Director and CWGL welcomed Krishanti Dharmaraj as Executive Director.

CWGL is pleased to welcome our new Visiting Global Associate Shalmali Guttal! Shalmali is the Coordinator of the Defending the Commons Programme at Focus on the Global South (Focus) in Bangkok, Thailand. Since 1991, she has been researching and writing on economic development, trade-investment, and ecological and social justice issues in Asia – especially the Mekong region and India -- with emphasis on local peoples’ and women’s rights. Focus’ Commons programme seeks to strengthen efforts by social movements, local/national civil society, legislators and policy makers to stop the privatization and commodification of the commons and build alternative systems of use and governance. Focus is committed to ecological and climate justice, food sovereignty, and securing land and resource rights for local communities. In addition to research and writing, Shalmali organizes educational programmes for students, civil society organizations, policymakers and representatives of local communities, municipal boards and other public bodies on economic policy, investment, food and land rights, and climate justice.  Shalmali has also been working with social movements and civil society actors to develop campaigns linking human rights with trade, investment and development issues.

To learn more about the Visiting Global Associates program, visit

Remarks on the occasion of the establishment of the Charlotte Bunch Women’s Human Rights Defender Award at the Global Fund for Women 25th Anniversary Gala ~ New York City, April 17, 2013

by Charlotte Bunch

Thank you Secretary Clinton for your generous remarks and for your lifetime of commitment to the rights of Women and Girls, and especially for taking these issues of the unfinished revolution to “the Big Boys” Club.

Thank you Musimbi Kanyoro of the GFW, the Board and staff as well as the GFW founders - for your visionary investment in women’s leadership and women’s movements - as the key strategic players who are turning these ideas into action for social change and human rights for all in the 21st century.

I accept this honor as part of the global women’s movement that links the work of grass roots activism to global policy making and the United Nations.

This is the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 and I would like to dedicate the award to the core group of feminists from all regions – South and North – who took the Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights to where we first gained UN international recognition that “women’s rights are human rights.”

I wish I could name them all as they are the ones who believed that this paradigm change was possible and dared to work across many geographic and cultural divisions that we were told we could not cross, in order to make it happen.

Personally I want to highlight 2 women in this group who have been my closest partners and collaborators:

Sunila Abeysekera from Sri Lanka – who you saw in the video questioning “what I was doing in Latin America teaching feminism” and then became one of my closest friends. She is now fighting cancer, even as she lives in exile for her human rights work in her own country. I hold her up tonight as a leading women’s human rights defender.

And I want to acknowledge and thank Roxanna Carrillo from Peru, who is now my legal Spouse and is here with us tonight. Of course, she is mostly why I was in Latin America and has been my partner personally and politically in this work for 3 decades – I could not have done this work without her.

I am very pleased that this award specifically honors Women’s Human Rights Defenders as I have come to believe that we can only realize the changes we seek in the world when we defend the defenders – those activists on the front lines who are experiencing the back lash that comes with any progress toward change.

As women claim our human rights and seek to influence all aspects of society – resistance is inevitable. It can be subtle forms of exclusion and shunning or overt violence, hate crimes, and murder.

Violence is particularly intense against those affirming women’s sexual and reproductive rights. But sexual violence is also used to seek to silence activists who work for peace and against war, or on economic inequality or climate change, or even who just seek to move freely in the public sphere.

All of us in this room and beyond - play a vital role that contributes to what I call the “symphony of liberations” that women are leading today to create a more just and compassionate world.

This symphony requires not only the brave defenders that you are about to meet, but also a persistent commitment to defend them and to support the women led movements for change that are transforming these ideas on the ground every day. And that is where the GFW works.

I am pleased to introduce the video of the 3 inspirational women defenders receiving this award that bears my name. They are illustrative, as are many of the GFW grantees – of our belief that change is possible. Their collective action is truly making a difference in the world. I know you will share my pride in their courage and commitment.

Thank you.

View photos

The Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) was founded as a project of Douglass College in 1989. Since 1990, CWGL has fostered women's leadership in the area of human rights through women's global leadership institutes, strategic planning activities, international mobilization campaigns, UN monitoring, global education endeavors, publications, and a resource center.

CWGL envisions a world in which all people are equal and gender equality is systematically realized by the achievement of human rights for all. CWGL works to: advance economic and social rights from a feminist perspective; promote an end to violence against women and highlight the linkages with militarism; and build coalitions and deepen capacity around those urgent issues that are critical to the global women’s movement to secure policy reform at the international and national levels. CWGL is a unit of International Programs within the School of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL), a consortium of women's programs at Rutgers University that examines leadership issues and advances women's leadership in education, research, politics, science, the arts, the workplace and the world. The member units of IWL are: the Center for the American Woman and Politics (CAWP), the Center for Women and Work, the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL), Douglass Residential College, the Institute for Research on Women (IRW), the Institute for Women and Art (IWA), the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, and the Women's and Gender Studies Department.

Visiting Global Associates Program

Established in 2002 with an endowment gift to the Institute for Women's Leadership from the Ford Foundation, the Visiting Global Associates Program supports opportunities for scholars and activists from around the world to visit Rutgers to work with the Center for Women's Global Leadership and the Institute for Women’s Leadership consortium members. The purpose of the Visiting Global Associates Program is to provide scholars and activists opportunities both to explore new areas of interest to them and to share their experience and wisdom with Rutgers faculty, staff and students. Visiting Global Associates may be in residence from two to six months to participate in leadership programs, curriculum development, and research initiatives on campus.

Current Visiting Global Associate

Past Visiting Global Associates

  • Marcela Olivera, Latin American coordinator for the Water for All campaign, Cochabamba, Bolivia;
  • Mary Jane Real, Coordinator, International Campaign on Women Human Rights Defenders, Manila, Phillipines;
  • Wanda Nowicka, President, Federation for Women and Family Planning, Warsaw, Poland;
  • Dr. Bene E. Madunagu, Professor of Botany, University of Calabar, Nigeria and General Coordinator for Development Alternatives with Women For A New Era (DAWN);
  • Sunila Abeysekera, Executive Director, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka;
  • Dr. Fathieh Saudi, Jordanian pediatrician and women's human rights advocate.








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