Oluwakemi Amodu

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Oluwakemi Amodu (29) is a PhD student at Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta (Canada) who expects to graduate in 2021. 

Oluwakemi  is from Nigeria and has worked as a nurse in a mother and child health care clinic in rural Nigeria, where she encountered the critical maternal health conditions of refugee women displaced by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. This dramatic experience led her to conduct deeper research on this issue and focus her thesis on  ‘Advocacy for reproductive rights and health of refugee women displaced by Boko Haram crisis in northern Nigeria’. She also has research experience in reproductive rights and women’s maternal health in Africa for international organizations.

In terms of her career plans, Oluwakemi is aiming to work as a professor at the University of Ibadan in the field of female reproductive rights and advocate for improved access to reproductive healthcare and human rights protection for women displaced by Boko Haram and women in the northern region of Nigeria.

Olukwakemi won first place at the University of Alberta’s 3-Minute Thesis Competition (2016), where she presented the findings of her master’s thesis on “Obstetric Fistula Policy in Nigeria” to a non-specialist audience.

Tegemea  Mwalingo

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Tegemea (31) is from Tanzania and she is currently a PhD student at the Department of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is expected to graduate in 2024. 

Before starting her PhD, Tegemea worked as a nurse in the obstetrics and gynecology department of a Tanzanian public hospital for six years. Her key responsibilities involved delivering individualized health services to women  (specifically to postnatal women who had delivery complications); educating women on family planning; and providing family planning services to the women of reproductive age. Some of her projects have already improved the lot of Tanzanian pregnant woman such as improved privacy at prenatal visits, cleaner clinics and further respectful maternity care. She led a group of trainers in reducing gender-based violence and wrote a proposal for a grant to establish a standardized gender-based violence service delivery center.

Coming from a country where maternal death and child mortality rates are very high and having professional experience in the field of obstetrics and gynecology has led Tegemea to focus on improving maternity health as her PhD thesis. 

In terms of future career goals, Tegemea is planning to become a lecturer and clinical researcher at a Tanzanian University to build an evidence-based information system that will help develop sustainable projects to improve maternal health services.

Tegemea strongly believes that getting access to higher education empowers women. She believes that getting a PhD degree from a top American university will provide her respect and reputation in addition to academic knowledge. This will, in turn, increase her chances of having a positive impact on maternal health policies in Tanzania.

Asha Asokan

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Asha Asokan (38) is pursuing her master’s degree at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and is expected to graduate in 2020. 

Inspired by her father, Asha obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law in 2003 and started her career as an advocate for a corporate law firm. Realizing that corporate life was not a good fit for her, she followed her dream of pursuing a career in the field of Human Rights, she obtained a master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law  in India. 

In 2010, Asha  relocated to Sudan and then later to South Sudan where she worked with the UN and INGO on civilian, women’s, refugee and child protection issues. She was actively involved in the release and reintegration of almost 600 child soldiers from both government forces and rebel groups. She also supported the creation of Women’s Protection Teams, which later participated in the South Sudan Peace Process in Addis Ababa. 

During her peace-building and conflict resolution work in South Sudan, one of the major challenges and gaps that Asha saw was the exclusion of women from peace-building process, since the male-dominated society didn’t recognize women’s roles in peace building. This revelation has led her to focus her thesis on the participation of women in the peace process and decision making in conflict countries.

After  graduation, Asha is aiming to have a career with the United Nations or another international organization. She is determined to support communities and nations for the inclusion of women and youth in peace processes and nation's decision-making processes, in tune with UN Security Council Resolutions.

Elizabeth Onyenefu Obekpa


Elizabeth Onyenefu is a 32 year-old Nigerian woman studying for a PhD degree at the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences of the University of Texas-Houston.

Elizabeth became a pharmacist at the age of 23 and developed an interest in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and decided to study public health in a developed country. She enrolled in the Public Health master’s program at the University of Leeds (UK) since this program focuses on promoting gender equality; improving health outcomes for women and children; and addressing health disparities in low and middle-income countries. 

Following graduation, Elizabeth worked with Caritas Nigeria, a non-profit organization that offers services for the poor, as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and served as the Activity Manager for its Adolescent HIV Care and Treatment Program. While working there, she realized that there is a huge need to prevent HIV negative women and adolescents from HIV/STIs and unplanned pregnancies. 

She decided to pursue a doctorate degree in public health, believing that a PhD will help her successfully develop and implement reproductive health evidence-based interventions to improve the sexual and reproductive health of Nigerian women and girls, through education, skills-building, and changing socio-cultural norms and gender roles.

For her PhD thesis, Elizabeth aims to culturally adapt the ‘It’s Your Game… Keep It Real (IYG)’ program in Nigeria to prevent teen pregnancies and HIV/STI in middle school youth, specifically to adolescent girls and to assess the usability and feasibility of the adapted intervention.

Elizabeth expects to graduate in 2022 and upon completion of her studies,  plans to return to her former place of work, Caritas Nigeria, which is interested in promoting adolescent sexual and reproductive health across Nigeria. She hopes to lead the establishment of an Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Unit there in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education to implement the adapted  IYG program.

Miryam Nacimento

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Miryam (34), who is from Peru, is pursuing a PhD degree at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at City University of New York. 

Miryam grew up in Lima, and has always feel herself personally connected to the Amazon. She was touched by this region’s social problems--high poverty levels, environmental degradation, and entrenchment of illegal economies. In trying to understand and confront these realities, she decided to study Political Science. After graduating with honors, she worked in the Ministries of Women and Social Development, where she engaged with Tikunas and Yaguas indigenous communities. 

Miryam received a full scholarship from the European Union and studied both in the Netherlands and Spain for her Master’s degree where she critically approached development interventions in the Global South and was introduced to feminist ecological perspectives 

Miryam’s dissertation title is ‘Between biodiversity loss and life proliferation:  Tikunas and Yaguas ecological relationalities in the Peruvian Amazon.’. Her research enquires into the dynamics of biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon in the context of the penetration of illegal and extractive industries. In particular, she will explore the ways in which biodiversity is affected by the agrarian practices of coca cultivation carried out by Tikunas and Yaguas in the region of Loreto.

Miryam expects to graduate in 2022 and upon her graduation, she is planning to return to Peru, become a Professor in Anthropology and an intellectual force to influence state and national governments by expressing the indigenous voice. She aims to promote the creation of interdisciplinary spaces for the study of environmental problems. She specifically wants to give a voice to indigenous women and youth in managing their environment.

Marwa Ramadan

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Marwa Ramadan (31) is pursuing a doctorate degree in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University - Bloomberg School of Public Health (USA).

Marwa grew up in Alexandria, Egypt where the importance of education was instilled in her early on. She was a driven student who entered medical school at age 16. During her early professional career in 2011, Egypt was going through major political and social revolution. It was during this time that Marwa became involved in community activities and joined a local NGO that assisted disadvantaged people. She discovered her passion in the area of public health for women and children. After completing her master’s degree, Marwa joined Doctors without Borders. She was motivated to become the voice of young women and girls who are victims of violence in displaced populations.

When Marwa was still in Egypt, she was involved in a couple of foundations that aimed to provide health education and medical resources for young adults. She led health campaigns and moderated health awareness on social media. Now as she pursues her studies in Baltimore, Marwa continues to make time to volunteer in food banks and food programs. She has been involved in food assessment, data analysis, program improvement, and volunteer coordination.

Marwa has developed an interest in helping women in Egypt who are pursuing education and careers in the medical sector. During her master’s thesis she studied female worker burnout and unsafe working conditions in hospitals. Marwa made recommendations for better working conditions for women in hospitals in Alexandria, Egypt. As an accomplished academic, she plans on leveraging her education and experience to empower women in academic settings.

Marwa’s PhD dissertation is in reproductive, maternal and newborn health indicators in humanitarian conflict settings. After completing her PhD, she plans on continuing the important work of evaluating maternal and child health services in disadvantaged settings.

Glorieuse Uwizeye


Glorieuse Uwizeye (44) is pursuing her PhD in Nursing at the University of Illinois – Chicago (USA).

Glorieuse grew up in a rural area in Rwanda. Early on, Glorieus and her family suffered the unfair consequences of being part of a tribe that was not supported by the government. In 1994 political turmoil between the tribes led to a genocide against her tribe and Glorieuse lost many of her family members.

Glorieuse is a survivor of great personal tragedy and hardship yet she persevered and continued her education in the nursing field. She went to South Africa to attain a master’s degree and upon her return to Rwanda started working with genocide survivors. Her compassion and motivation led her to advocate for the needs of these survivors, especially, the women and children and those who needed mental health care. The desire for volunteer work stemmed from her being a woman, nurse and mother of three. Glorieuse deeply believes nurses are at the center of giving care and thus are essential to a better community.

One of her earlier jobs consisted of working as a community health profession trainer where she focused her efforts to teach women how to care for themselves and their families, particularly those that were infected with HIV.

Additionally, Glorieuse has found an interest in researching and helping rape victims and the surviving children of the 1994 genocide. Her realization that she has much to learn in order to properly help the survivors has led her to seek a doctorate degree in the area of nursing and mental health. Her dissertation is in health outcomes of exposure to extreme stress among Rwandan adults born of genocidal rape.

After completion of her PhD, Glorieuse plans to promote research and training for Rwandan nurses and aspires to help create a PhD program in nursing at the University of Rwanda.

Hannah Oduro-Obeng

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Hannah Oduro-Obeng (34) is a PhD candidate studying Food Science at the University of Manitoba (Canada).

Growing up in Ghana, Hannah was excited to study the sciences from a very young age. She also found herself becoming interested in nutrition, particularly, undernutrition, something that was common in her community. Hannah strongly believes that understanding the science behind food can lead to better nutrition and health choices. This is even more important for the case of women and children. Hannah finds that women and children are the most vulnerable members of society and are affected by food, nutrition insecurity, and poverty.

After receiving her master’s from a university in Israel she returned to Ghana and worked in the Food Research Institute while researching and writing several peer reviewed journal articles. Hannah also wrote technical reports and attended many workshops and conferences to learn as much as she could.

Hannah’s education, research and experiences have equipped her to focus on a niche area in the world of food and nutrition. Specifically, the sustainability, and utilization of indigenous, locally acquired and culturally acceptable foods for optimum food and nutrition security. She empowers women as she involves them with their concerns in food preparation, production and sales. This was apparent in her project where she worked to cultivate nutrient rich oyster mushrooms using biotechnological advances which ultimately aided the women who operated in the mushroom business.

Continuing with her spirit of improving the lives of women and children, Hannah has been a mentor to female agricultural scientists in Africa. After completion of her PhD she plans on mentoring future female scientists as well as lead research in the area of nutrition and food science with emphasis on locally acquired food. Her vision is to set forth a pathway for a more resilient agricultural economy in Ghana.

Sofia Salas


Sofia Salas (28) is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration at Harvard University – Kennedy School of Government.

Sofia grew up in Colombia during a period of conflict. Surrounded by the love and support of three incredible women – her mother, grandmother and sister, Sofia received valuable education and cultural experiences allowing her to explore her curiosity and interests. She also had the opportunity to travel around her country and see the impact of conflict in different regions.

Sofia was particularly aware of the effect of war on women and this motivated her to volunteer at a non-profit organization as a project officer. There she focused her efforts on several projects that were aimed at reconciliation activities for people in regions affected by armed conflict. She also collaborated with PepsiCo and Coca Cola on a project meant to foster women empowerment and gender equity in rural areas affected by violence.

Sofia was also the co-founder of an organization where she led other like-minded young people to promote peace and a transparent and ethical political arena. Sofia also organized and attended marches in defense of the peace agreement between a guerilla group and the Colombian government.

 As she pursues her degree, Sofia remains active and committed to issues facing Colombians and Latin American women. She is currently on the gender policy union at Harvard’s Kennedy School where she is discussing and debating key policy issues around gender, women’s right, and different forms of feminism.

After graduation Sofia plans to leverage her professional, educational and personal experiences to continue fighting for gender equality and empowerment of women. She plans on getting involved in the public sector in a political role by working side-by-side with a female political figure. Her main goal there would be to increase female participation in all aspects of the political scene.