- Age: 27
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The greatest opportunity we have is that we don’t need someone else to make the world a better place. You and I can start it now.
- Hafsah Muheed
Hafsah Muheed is an intersectional feminist, human rights advocate, and development and sustainability practitioner with over seven years of grassroots experience on gender, wellbeing, climate change, and human rights. Her skills include managing non-financial risks, developing and implementing policies, strategies, and advocacy campaigns, movement building, project management, resource mobilization, and stakeholder and team management. Presently she works in social sustainability in apparel manufacturing in the private sector where she manages the pillars of diversity and inclusion with a focus on persons with disabilities, women’s empowerment and advocacy, climate change, sustainable development, and health and wellbeing. This is done for 12 business units and communities in Sri Lanka, Jordan, and Indonesia focusing on advocacy, policy, program management, and auditing.
Hafsah currently serves on the Board of Sri Lanka Unites, which is a grassroots youth movement in Sri Lanka working on peacebuilding and reconciliation. She is currently onboarding as a member of the Members Advisory Group of CIVICUS. She also serves as the Secretary for the Adolescent & Youth Constituency, member of Global Steering Committee — Operationalizing Meaningful Adolescents & Youth Engagement of PMNCH. She is currently a member of the Colombo Global Shapers Hub born out of the World Economic Forum and incoming Vice Curator for 2022/23. She was also a youth ambassador for the UNDP Asia Pacific United Creatives program where she led a team that designed and launched the Think Before Share campaign focusing on misinformation and its impact on women.
She is also founder of Amplifying Impact, a youth-led feminist organization which works via informal structures to ensure safety of the vulnerable populations they work with in the communities. Amplifying Impact works with vulnerable and marginalized populations who cannot exercise their human rights and who are unable to access services that meet their needs. She is also a writer and poet who publishes pieces on human rights and women’s rights and their intersectionality to various focus areas. During her tenure as a visiting lecturer for Pearson Diploma in Business Management, she has been able to incorporate sustainable development agenda into each nodule to create awareness. She also uses poetry as an advocacy tool for human and women’s rights via her Medium blog.
Hafsah currently represents Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka, a youth-led organization working towards realizing sexual and reproductive health rights of Sri Lankans at SYAN, a regional health network focusing on adolescent and youth health, on behalf of Sri Lanka. She is humbled to be recognized as a Women Deliver Young Leader Class of 2020 & WEDU Global Rising Star.
She was able to represent Sri Lanka as a youth delegate at Youth of United Nations General Assembly (YOUNGA) 2020 organized by ‘Bridging The Gap’. She co-led the thematic area of ‘Good Health and Well-being’ in organizing, hosting youth consultations globally and drafting the recommendations to be presented to the UN General Assembly.
What ignited your pursuit for gender equality?
When I was schooling students were asked to take back home the used menstrual pads in our school bags as we had no way of disposal due to waste not being collected. This was not hygienic and did not work in the long run. Few of us organized and spoke to the teachers because the challenge was getting people to talk to us as periods are considered taboo. Then as a member of the debating team, we were researching discriminatory laws and I came across the Muslim Marriage & Divorce Act (MMDA) of Sri Lanka and realised the violation of rights that was happening to us and that I was unaware of it was very despairing. The very fact that Muslim women and girls cannot sign our own marriage certificate and the absence of minimum age of marriage which was legally allowed was appalling. To even sit for the O/L exams we have to sign our own application, yet I live in a country where we legally cannot consent to our own choice in marriage. This led me to spend time learning what was happening around me and drew my focus to people who cannot access mainstream support or speak about their issues.
Please share your biggest wins as an advocate for gender equality.
1. https://www.instagram.com/p/CbfDM6Tgt2w/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 2. Establishing GBV a holistic GBV response across 7 communities in Sri Lanka 3. Facilitate qualitative research, develop roadmaps increasing career advancement of women by 45% and Persons with Disabilities by 40% 4. Drive Nike’s gender targets for strategic suppliers as a supply chain entity and increased performance in the customer gender tool by 10% in 2021 5. Implemented the ‘Community Engagement Model’ strategy across the division promoting stakeholder collaboration by facilitating over 60+ projects focusing on climate change. 6. Mobilized youth as community leads via a strategic public-private partnership & led climate change awareness and action across 5 communities with 20 projects being implemented. 7. Co-created the toolkit: a youth guide to end online gender based violence with UN Women APAC
Outside of your gender equality advocacy work, what do you enjoy doing?
Reading, Poetry, Volunteering,
- English (Advanced/Native)
- Sinhalese (Advanced/Native)
- Women's Rights
- Human Rights & Peacebuilding
- Climate Change
Past Awards, Certifications, or Fellowships:
- 30 for 2030 - UN Women APAC 2022/23
- Climate Action Champions Network - 2022/23
- Safe Sister Fellowship - 2023
- Women’s Voice for Peaceful Pluralism – Internews Sri Lanka (2021)
- Humanitarian Academy at Harvard University & Building a Better (2020) – Strengthening (NGO) Capacity and Engagement in the International Humanitarian Coordination System