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SVRI Forum’s Young Professionals Programme

SVRI Forum’s Young Professionals Programme provides young professionals from LMIC, to expand their knowledge and skills-base, and to network and engage with experts in a vibrant global space. With the help of this programme, we have seen many young professionals deliver high-quality presentations at the Forum and have seen growth in their personal and professional lives. This year, we had 9 researchers and activists who took part in the programme.


Lori Michau

Lori Michau is the co-founder and Co-Director of Raising Voices, a feminist non-profit organization based in Kampala, Uganda, working to prevent violence against women and children. Lori also spearheaded the creation of the GBV Prevention Network, coordinated by Raising Voices, now with over 1000 members in the Horn, East and Southern Africa and co-founded the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention in Kampala. Prior to Raising Voices she was the Program Director at Jijenge! Women’s Center for Sexual Health in Mwanza, Tanzania. She has extensive experience in community mobilization and has developed comprehensive methodologies for violence prevention which are being used in over 60 countries including the SASA! Activist Kit for Preventing Violence against Women and HIV which is among the few approaches globally with proven, community-level impact on preventing intimate partner violence against women and HIV risk. Lori has also has written numerous articles on violence prevention, and leads a team dedicated to infusing global VAW prevention work with the transformational potential of solidarity, activism and technical rigor. Lori received her Masters in Human Rights from Makerere University in Uganda. After being based in East Africa for over 20 years, she now splits her time between Kampala and Boston.



Natalie Robi Tingo is a Girls Right Activist and Social Change Development expert. She has more than nine years’ experience in the nonprofit sector and holds a B.A. in Economics from Moi University, Kenya. She is the Founder of Msichana Empowerment Kuria, a women-led community based organization she founded at 19 years old. Her organization reaches more than 100,000 people from her community in rural Kenya. She is passionate about girls’ rights to end poverty and reduce inequality by addressing girls’ education, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, Discrimination & Violence against women and girls. Her Organization partner’s with girls, their communities and stakeholders to advance Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as Human Rights, build the agency for girls to demand for them through girl-led initiatives and influence policy and investments at all levels. Natalie has won multiple awards for her work and has recently completed her Masters as part of the Chevening programme in the UK.

The NAWEZA project-girls as active agents of change by Msichana Empowerment Kuria, Kenya
Natalie Tingo


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Chelsea Ullman is a Research Scientist at the Global Women’s Institute (GWI). She joined GWI at its founding while serving as a Presidential Fellow at the George Washington University (a selective program that offers high-achieving students the opportunity for professional development while completing a Masters degree). Chelsea has contributed to the strategic growth of GWI by developing key policy initiatives, communications & outreach programs, and participating in research on violence against women and girls globally. Chelsea holds a PhD in Public Policy and Public Administration, focused in Gender and Social Policy, from the George Washington University. Her doctoral work explored theories of justice for survivors of campus sexual assault in the United States, with a goal of improved policymaking on the issue. Chelsea is committed to amplifying the voices of survivors of violence in research and policy.



Iris Nxumalo-De Smidt is a feminist systems innovator, who leverages research, facilitation, and organisational development to support feminist movement-building and systems change in philanthropy. She has spent almost a decade supporting strategic grant-making and systems change initiatives through feminist movement-building, Pan- African youth advocacy, lecturing and conducting research in five countries spanning three continents. Iris holds an MSc in African Studies from Oxford University, and is currently reading for an MPhil in Inclusive Innovation at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business as a Bertha Scholar.

Building movements and building power: individual and institutional approaches for embodying feminist values in organisational life
Iris Nxumalo-De Smidt


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Elisabet le Roux is a Research Director at the Unit for Religion and Development Research (URDR), in the Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Stellenbosch University, with a dissertation entitled The role of African Christian churches in dealing with sexual violence against women: the case of the DRC, Rwanda and Liberia. As a faith and development expert, she does research across the globe, focusing particularly on gender and gender-based violence.


Devika Gupta

Devika Gupta is an early career researcher with the Addictions Research Group at Sangath, Goa. She is trained in psychology and sustainable development and feels passionately about improving young people’s mental health. She has previously worked on projects in public engagement for mental health, intervention development for hazardous drinking, and community-based mental health service delivery. Currently she is researching gender based violence in Goa and Rajasthan in India, working to develop prevention and treatment interventions for problems such as domestic violence and violence in dating relationships.

A conceptual model of dating violence among young people aged 15 – 24 years in India
Devika Gupta, Marimilha Grace Pacheco, Sasha Agrawal, Pranali Gaonkar, Aresh Naik, Urvita Bhatia, Abhijit Nadkarni


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Naeemah Abrahams is the director of the women’s health research team at the South African Medical Research Council, a unit that she helped to set up in the late 1980s. Abrahams started her career as a nurse in the hospitals of Cape Town, where she saw how often women showed up battered and bruised — a phenomenon that went mostly unmentioned by her colleagues. She dedicated her career to assembling and analysing these numbers in order to change the lives of the people behind them. In the process, she’s helped to turn the tide of gender-based violence in South Africa. Before Naeemah Abrahams’s name was attached to more than 90 public health research publications in prestigious academic journals, she worked as a nurse.


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Levi Muyela has a background in medical psychology and interest in maternal and child mental health research. Levi has participated in the development of a mobile phone anger management intervention that focuses on training fathers expressing intimate partner violence (IPV) to IPV in rural Kenya. This experience has provided him with avenues for recruiting fathers in violence prevention programs, a challenge experienced in most African settings. Levi is also part of a team mapping IPV support services for women living in informal settlements in Kenya, a project that complements my experience working with fathers expressing violence.

Development of the Harmful Anger Mitigation Intervention (HAMI) for male partners expressing intimate partner violence
Christine Musyimi, Levi Muyela, Victoria Mutiso, Natascha Buchele, David Ndetei, Michael Odenwald


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Clara Alemann is a gender specialist with over 15 years of experience in program design and implementation and evaluation of government and social development programs to advance gender equality. She is the Director of Programs at Equimundo, drawing and building on Equimundo’s growing research and practice-based experience adapting and implementing fatherhood and caregiver support programs to promote gender equitable, nurturing, and non-violent caregiving. Clara has worked with international development organizations (the United Nations Development Programme, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank) and is a mentor of The Prevention Collaborative, an initiative created to serve practitioners working to prevent violence against women and children, where she developed tools, guidance, and research on the intersections of violence against women and violence against children.Clara holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires. She has worked in different countries in Latin America and Africa.



Natalie Davidson is a Masters student at the University of Cape Town. She is the project manager of the project to adapt the Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) teen programme to address both VAW and VAC which is funded by SVRI. The last two years Natalie has worked on the initial data collection and analysis to inform the adaptation of the PLH programme. I have a great passion for Violence research especially research to address VAW and VAC simultaneously.

Including VAW prevention in parent training for parents and teens
Natalie Davidson, Catherine L. Ward



Avni Amin works at the WHO’s Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research on violence against women. Her primary focus is to support countries – Ministries of Health – in the translation and uptake of WHO’s normative guidelines and tools to strengthen health systems response to violence against women. She has led the development of clinical guidelines for responding to child and adolescent sexual abuse and is a lead author of the WHO global plan of action on strengthening health systems response to addressing interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls and against children. Avni is a passionate feminist scientist with a fierce commitment to gender equality and women’s health. She has a PhD in International Health from the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health. 



Beatriz Kalichman is a PhD student working in the intersection of domestic violence against women and global health, with special interest on the power dynamics between countries and its effects on knowledge production. She has a background in public policy and a master’s degree in urban planning, in which she studied the influence of imported ideas in recent urban transformations in São Paulo. Beatriz is interested in disseminating what has been produced by Latin American academics and activists and in making sure we don’t blindly import ideas from high-income countries. She is currently a research assistant and joint training lead for HERA (Health Care Responding to Violence and Abuse) Global Health Group.

Addressing ethical challenges in global research on health systems responses to violence against women to improve integrity and results
Beatriz Kalichman, Ana Flávia d’Oliveira, Yuri Nishijima Azeredo, Loraine J Bacchus, Natalia V Lewis



Melissa Alvarado is a passionate advocate for ending violence against women and children, seeking broad-reaching influence and sustainable systems that work for women and children. In her role with UN Women, she supports governments and NGOs to develop accountability systems, influence policies and laws, and improve direct services to end violence against women and girls and advance gender equality. Prevention of violence and changing the norms that allow violence to continue are essential complements to building better response systems that comprises so much of our work. Her enduring focus on ending violence against women and children grew from direct service with survivors, through crisis intervention and advocacy. Years of experience with United Nations agencies and international NGOs allows her to leverage the important interplay between national commitments and actual practice. Melissa’s approach brings together health, police, social welfare, justice and education disciplines to build smarter systems for violence prevention and response, and improve accountability.



Anis Farid has a background in psychology and social policy, and works as a researcher, bringing her expertise together to investigate questions around issues which impact women, using data-driven approaches. Her interest is in understanding the influence of culture on these issues, from gender equality to violence against women, and drawing from holistic, collective whole-of-society approaches for solutions. Over the past year, Anis has examined gender-responsive budgeting as well as public attitudes and perceptions towards violence against women and gender equality with the goal of advocating for strengthened policies and increased empathy in responses through engagements across different government ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, as well as the Royal Police Force, among others. Ultimately, she hopes to make these issues accessible and engaging through knowledge translation processes, not only for policymakers and key-decision-makers, but everyday people as well.

“Who is going to believe me?”: help-seeking through the perspectives of Malaysian survivors of violence against women
Anis Farid, Isabel Chung, Sajaratulnisah Othman, Shanthi Thambiah, Shazana Agha


Nancy Glass

Nancy Glass conducts clinical and community-based intervention research with diverse populations across multiple settings domestically and globally. Since 2002, Dr. Glass has served as Principal Investigator of nine federally funded multidisciplinary research projects (NICHD, NIMHD, CDC, NIMH, NINR, OWH) to improve safety, health, and economic security and address gender inequity in diverse community and clinic settings. Dr. Glass has also collaborated with global experts and donors (UNICEF, World Bank, U.S. Department of State, PRM) to implement and evaluate innovative primary prevention programs that challenge social norms that sustain violence against women in humanitarian settings (Somalia and South Sudan). She has also helped examine the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in the three regions of Somalia (South Central, Puntland, and Somaliland) to inform GBV programs and service. Dr. Glass works to improve health care systems’ response through a partnership that examines the feasibility and acceptability of ASIST-GBV to identify survivors of GBV in health settings with displaced and refugee populations in Kenya after developing the screening tool in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Colombia. All research collaborations have used mHealth technologies to deliver programs and to collect confidential and secure data, reach diverse populations, and provide tools and resources to health and social service providers. Dr. Glass is committed to collaborating with and mentoring colleagues, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students globally as well as partnering with community experts and organizations to improve health, safety, and economic stability for women, families, and communities.



Efua Bortsie is a passionate individual who is interested in creating meaningful and sustainable change in communities on the African continent. She has over 5 years’ experience in the development space, primarily focusing on managing programming in the health and education sectors.  In her current role, she has led 9 rapid impact evaluations of the organization’s health program, which is primarily focused on curbing intergenerational relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa. Efua has also leveraged over $400,000 in funding to implement health programming that has reached 15,000 students over 3 years. At the onset on the pandemic, she led the pivot of the organizations low-technology response which aimed to provide virtual safe spaces for adolescents girls and boys via phone call, while additionally allowing us to refer any in-danger (relating to abuse or GBV) children to the relevant emergency support services.

Empowering girls: a randomized trial on mHealth ‘safe spaces’ during COVID-19
Noam Angrist, Efua Bortsie, Claire Cullen, Lorato Gaolebe, Amy Jung, Bogadi Mothlobogwa


Heidi Stoeckl

Heidi Stöckl is a Professor of Public Health Evaluation in the medical faculty of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany. She has more than 20 years of experience in researching the epidemiology of intimate partner violence, violence-related mortality and human trafficking, including studies on the prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence among the general population, pregnant and older women, the global prevalence of intimate partner homicide and perpetrators of child homicide, trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage in Uzbekistan and China. Heidi’s research mainly consists of large scale survey data analysis and evidence synthesis, and her primary research has included a randomized control trial in South Africa, cross-sectional surveys, penal file analyses, and qualitative and methodological work in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Europe. She is currently running the first longitudinal study among adult women on intimate partner violence in sub-Saharan Africa with four waves of data collection to explore the predictors and consequences of intimate partner violence, a qualitative study on perceptions and conceptualizations of sexual harassment in Tanzania, and formative work through adaptive programming to develop an intervention addressing sexual violence among adolescent boys in Nigeria. Heidi conducted the first prevalence study on intimate partner violence during pregnancy in Germany.



Anh Van Vo is an MSPH graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Social and Behavioral Interventions. As an emerging researcher, Anh has worked on a number of projects examining structural drivers of HIV, COVID-19, and gender-based violence in the United States, Uganda, and Eswatini. Her work includes qualitative research about acceptability of a sexual resistance intervention on college campuses in Eswatini; gender implications of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation in the U.S; IPV and its impacts on disclosure of HIV status in Uganda and one of her most recent projects involved developing an online anti-harassment program for University students in Eswatini. 

Applying a Freirean framework to conceptualize a sexual assault resistance intervention
Anh Van Vo, Fortunate Shabalala, Sakhile Masuku, Rebecca Fielding Miller

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