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.