MADRE is delighted to announce that Kavita N. Ramdas is joining the organization as our new Strategy Advisor.
Introducing the Role of Strategy Advisor
The global rise of right-wing populism and authoritarianism has been accompanied by a backlash against the hard-won rights of women’s organizing and progressive social movements. As states worldwide abandon commitments to multilateralism and human rights, the fundamental weakness of the human rights system is exposed: its lack of enforcement mechanisms.
Yet, a closer look at the past 60 years reveals that the ultimate guarantor of rights was never the state. Rather, it was progressive social movements using their credibility and power among the people to hold governments accountable. Many of these movements are now under attack, and it is clear that confronting ascendant right-wing nationalism will require more effective organizing in support of social movements.
MADRE has created the position of Strategy Advisor to enable the organization to work closely with a highly experienced leader in the global women’s movement. As Kavita assumes this role, under her leadership we will develop initiatives that effectively respond to the opportunities and threats of the current moment, strengthen our existing programs and develop new lines of work within the global women’s movement, including in the US.
Kavita Nandini Ramdas is a visionary leader and globally recognized advocate for gender equity and justice. She is an inspirational speaker and thought commentator on the challenges facing philanthropy and civil society as they seek to advance equitable and sustainable development and gender and racial equity.
From 1996 to 2010, Kavita led and transformed the Global Fund for Women as its second President and CEO to become the largest public foundation for women’s rights in the world. She is recognized as a leader in the global movement, actively engaged in advancing the power, visibility and voice of women and girls. After three years heading the Ford Foundation’s operations in South Asia, she has spent the past year as Senior Advisor to the Foundation’s President on Global Strategy.
Kavita has served on numerous boards including those of Women’s Link Worldwide, Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College.
Also a natural entrepreneur, Kavita founded a program on Social Entrepreneurship that is housed at Stanford University. She is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows Program. Kavita currently serves on the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Board of Trustees.
A gifted communicator, Kavita has spoken at numerous venues including the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the World Economic Forum, TED, and the United Nations. Media appearances include NOW with the Bill Moyers Show, the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Democracy Now! and CNN.
MADRE partners with grassroots women’s organizations facing war, disaster and injustice to meet their basic needs as a bridge to develop their advocacy and leadership. We sustain local women’s organizations, co-create programs with partners and provide ongoing training, accompaniment and access for women to build new skills, step up as leaders and win rights for themselves and their communities locally, nationally and globally. Together, these two strategies — meeting urgent needs and advocating for rights — combine to strengthen and advance women’s movements to create lasting social change.
As a committed supporter of women’s rights defenders globally, MADRE believes it is vital to identify the strategic openings within today’s crises that can be used to mobilize resistance, move beyond resistance to creating alternatives to right-wing narratives, defend women’s rights, and cultivate the breakthroughs that will produce the next generation of feminist strategies.