Meet BCCIC's Delegates to the Generation Equality Forum
BCCIC is excited to announce our delegation to the Paris Generation Equality Forum (GEF). The Forum will take place virtually from June 30 – July 2, 2021. All delegates were selected from BCCIC’s volunteers, staff and board, as well as organizational and individual members.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women, France and Mexico are hosting the 2021 Generation Equality Forum (GEF), a global forum that serves to catalyze collective action towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity. The first GEF, hosted by Mexico, took place on March 29-31, 2021. It built momentum and set the stage for the second GEF, which will be hosted by France on June 30 – July 2, 2021. The second GEF in Paris will gather stakeholders from all sectors to make bold 5-year commitments to the GEF Action Coalitions.
Through the forum process, six multi-stakeholder Action Coalitions have been established that will set agendas for urgent action and accountability to accelerate progress toward gender equality and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As a co-leader of the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, Canada will play an important role in coordinating the valuable feedback and contributions of civil society organizations working on gender equality issues in Canada and internationally. The Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership aims to:  double global annual growth rate of funding to women-led and feminist movements, including those led by trans, intersex, and non-binary people;  promote, expand, and protect civic space across all domains, for women and individuals in all their diversity;  increase the meaningful participation, leadership, and decision-making power of girls, women, and feminist leaders; and  dedicate specific, flexible financial, technical and other resources for adolescent girls and young feminist leaders.
Our delegates will have an opportunity to contribute to these discussions that will inform concrete 5-year commitments in the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, as well as in the Action Coalitions that focus on Gender-based Violence, Economic Justice & Rights, Bodily Autonomy & SRHR, and Feminist Action for Climate Justice. Our delegation will also be hosting a side event entitled Feminist Youth Will Not Be Left Behind: Decolonizing and re-imagining the Leave No One Behind (LNOB) pledge of the 2030 Agenda. The moderator and speakers for this side event, include Panthea Pourmalek, Chesa Abma-Slade, Katelynne Herchak and Sophia Yang.
For media or general inquiries about this delegation and its side event, please reach out to us at email@example.com or contact the Head of Delegation, Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet our Delegates!
Below you’ll find a list of BCCIC’s delegates to GEF, in alphabetical order by last name. Click on any of these names to read their bios.
Chesa Abma-Slade is a proud member of Xwsepsum (Esquimalt Nation). She carries Frisian ancestry on her mother’s side and Lekwungen, Interior Salish, and European ancestry on her father’s side. Currently, Chesa is a first-year law student in the JD/JID Indigenous Law Program at the University of Victoria. She hopes to use her legal education to address issues, such as the overrepresentation of Indigenous persons within the criminal justice system, through Indigenous legal orders and a holistic and trauma-informed approach. Chesa believes in the importance of representing the diverse perspectives of Indigenous peoples’ (especially Indigenous children and youth) in movements for change. Her goal is to utilize her experience and skills to work alongside Indigenous peoples, families and communities as they meet their goals and flourish.
For over seven years, Chesa has been dedicated to promoting education and learning. She has had the honour of working with children and youth in the Lekwungen territory, W̱SÁNEĆ territory and Aotearoa (New Zealand). Chesa has gained rich knowledge from the children and youth she has worked with, which further fuels her desire to uplift future generations. She has worked and volunteered to support children and youth through education, language revitalization, and the arts.
Through her personal and professional experience, Chesa has witnessed the strength of fostering the connections between Indigenous peoples in the North and South Pacific. During her time working with Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, Chesa organized an artist exchange that brought three artists to British Columbia from the Sepik Region of Papua New Guinea. The project’s impact was significant as one of the artists was the first woman from their community to travel internationally to showcase their art.
On her educational journey thus far, Chesa has achieved a certificate in Indigenous family support and a diploma in Indigenous studies from Camosun College and a bachelor of arts degree in professional communication from Royal Roads University.
Bashar Alsaeedi is a Policy Analyst at the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), and has recently supported an in depth research project on SDG advisory councils in eight countries. He holds a Masters in Public Policy and Global Affairs and a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. At BCCIC, Bashar participated in the UN Commision on the Status of Women (CSW) 65 as a delegate where he actively engaged on a number of topics including the importance of male allyship and engaging men and boys to advance gender equality. After attending CSW65 side events, he was inspired to carry out research for BCCIC focusing on policies and best practices to work with men and boys in promoting and advancing gender equality.
Prior to joining the BCCIC team, Bashar was a Business Associate for the Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Bahrain to strengthen the creation and growth of SMEs in Africa, Asia and South America to facilitate inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID). Part of Bashar’s role was to promote the government’s mandate on economic empowerment of women and youth in the Arab region and internationally, and stimulate various awareness and support programs for women and youth. He organized a number of entrepreneurial programs in Bahrain some of which were tailored to youth and stay-at-home mothers who have expressed interest in obtaining financial independence. Bashar had the opportunity to organize programs like Khatwa – meaning “the step” in Arabic which is a program for home based businesses as well as the Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Program for local university students. As more women enter the workforce, this has not only created a more productive and competitive economy but has also improved the social fabric of the island nation. Bashar was fortunate to witness the achievements made by the Supreme Council for Women after its initial establishment under Royal Decree No. 44, to narrow the gender gap in education, health sector, and economic participation.
Bashar has a profound respect for his mother who became the first female doctor in her family and was able to break barriers in the medical field, not to mention practice medicine during the Gulf War while pregnant. Bashar believes that despite seeing strides in gender equality and women’s empowerment, more needs to be done. He hopes that his participation at the CSW65 will bring clarity to how different nations around the world will be able to accelerate their commitments to realizing gender equality and women empowerment through concrete policies in action.
She was born in 2000 to a Turkmen family in the northern province of Faryab, Afghanistan. She learned to read and write in the local mosque. She lost her father when she was a child. Then when she and her family were forced to leave her village and take refuge in Maimana, the provincial center, she passed an evaluation exam and started her school from 7th grade. A year later, she succeeded getting to the Afghan Turk School, and was a recipient of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan’s Shafia Fund scholarship.
She will soon be attending the American University of Afghanistan on a scholarship, where she will study Computer Science.
Dr. Zosa De Sas Kropiwnicki-Gruber is the Policy Director & Gender Specialist at BCCIC. She was awarded a doctorate in International Development Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as two Masters degrees in Political Science and Social Policy from Leeds University and Rhodes University, respectively. Zosa has accrued 17 years of experience in research, evaluation, and policy analysis in developing, transitional, and emergency contexts in South East Europe, Central Asia, West Africa, and Southern Africa. Zosa has worked for a wide range of government, non-government, and international non-governmental organizations such as UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC, IOM, Save the Children, Childline and Family for Every Child.
Zosa’s doctoral research focused on the sexual exploitation of adolescent girls in Southern Africa. Since then much of her research, advocacy and policy development has centred on protecting women and children from different forms of violence, exploitation and trafficking, addressing the root causes of this violence, and promoting resilience, agency and empowerment among girls and women. More recently, Zosa has expanded her focus to the ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB) pledge, one of the underlying principles of the Sustainable Development Goals. At BCCIC, Zosa has taken the lead on several policy, research and capacity development initiatives related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, including the development of an organizational gender strategy and PSEA policy, and writing various guidelines, policy briefs and reports, such as Leveraging the Interlinkages: Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and the SDGs. Zosa is also responsible for organizing and leading delegations to the Commission on the Status of Women. She is very excited to be heading this year’s delegation to the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and is looking forward to learning a great deal from her fellow delegates, advocating for an intersectional perspective on gender equality, and engaging in meaningful conversations about inclusion, equity and diversity within the feminist movement.
Dr. Geetanjali Gill is a member of BCCIC, an Assistant Professor in the Global Development Studies program at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford, BC, and an independent gender and development consultant. Geetanjali has completed academic degrees in International Development Studies, with specializations in gender and rural development, from the University of Sussex (PhD), London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc), and the University of Toronto (BA Co-op, Specialist). Geetanjali teaches courses in Gender and Development, Refugees and Displacement, Development Ethics, Poverty and Development, Global Health and Development, Humanitarian Aid, and Development Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Geetanjali has worked for more than sixteen years as a development practitioner, gender trainer, and evaluator in the UK, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Canada. She has worked with the European Union, Global Affairs Canada, the Government of Mauritius, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the British Council, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Most recently, she has carried out gender consultancies for NGOs such as Help Age International, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Right to Play International, and the Justice Education Society International.
Geetanjali’s main interest in the practice and study of global development is recognizing and addressing intersectional gender inequalities in the global South, and gender transformative change. She is currently conducting research on socio-cultural norms and education outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa, the empowerment of women and girls with albinism in Sierra Leone, and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings in Lebanon and Uganda. She has also worked as a gender researcher for the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands, and Dr. Vandana Shiva’s ecological research foundation in India. https://www.ufv.ca/gds/faculty/gill-geetanjali.htm
Gurleen Grewal recently completed her MA in English at Simon Fraser University where her research interests were in the fields of Black Studies, Discourse Analysis and Gender and Sexuality. Throughout her scholarship, she examined how gendered and racialized forms of being interacted and affected one’s lived experience: ways of knowing, being, moving through and with/in the world.
Seeking to better understand how she might contribute to global solidarities, Gurleen took on a volunteer position with BCCIC as a Public Engagement Writing Assistant. Her time with BCCIC was invaluable in elucidating the overlapping precarities that shape the landscape of women and girls’ lives in the Global South, and in more local contexts as well. It is in this role that she first learned of the robust civil society activity that sustained and interrogated the efficacy of Canada’s global engagement in the form of feminist promises, such as those manifested in the Feminist International Assistance Policy.
She is now serving as International Development Communications Specialist and as Project Lead with World Neighbours Canada, a small civil society organization based in the Interior of BC. In this role, she wrote a case study on gender equity and sustainable development for BCCIC’s report prepared for the UN’s 64th Commission on the Status of Women (titled, “Localizing SDG 5: A Case Study on Rural Development Work that Addresses Interlinkages), and she participated in one of BCCIC’s Groundtruths webinars speaking on holistic approaches to advancing the health and wellbeing of women in girls in Burkina Faso, Nepal, and Honduras. Most recently, she has been working with WNC and their local partner in Burkina Faso, APDC, to examine the efficacy of a gender-transformative approach to promoting women’s full and equitable economic participation in the livestock smallholder sector.
Kate is VIDEA’s Indigenous Governance Officer. Kate’s background is in Indigenous Family Support Work and is now completing her degree in Justice Studies at Royal Roads University. Kate is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Lkwungen speaking people. Kate is Inuk on her Father’s side from Kuujjuaq,QC with ties to Nunavut and Celtic & Viking on her Mother’s side. She is an alumna of UNA-Canada’s Youth As PeaceBuilder’s Forum 2017 as well as the Canadian Service Corps Program where she had the opportunity to attend COP25. Kate wears many hats outside of VIDEA, she is the Deputy Chair for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Youth Advisory, a member of Pauktuutit National Inuit Women’s Youth Gender Equality Council and is the Acting President of the National Urban Inuit Youth Council. Kate is passionate about decolonizing education and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems and perspectives into spaces to create meaningful relationships and change.
At CW4WAfghan Sarah works on initiatives engaging Canadians as global citizens, and leads on the global solidarity work of the Advocacy Team. She has a background in program development, monitoring and evaluation, and ethnographic research using participatory approaches, having worked globally supporting women affected by conflict and violence. She has worked with varied agencies including the European Commission, US Institute of Peace, DFID, IOM, UNESCO and others on projects focusing on women’s health, educational access, food security and gender based violence for refugee organizations in Canada and Europe, and in East and Central Africa, Mexico, Turkey and Iraq, where she lived for two years, teaching at university level, and coordinating peace training initiatives with Iraqi NGOs and UNAMI. As a practitioner and activist, she is passionate about the project to decolonize international development. She has studied Refugee Studies, International Development, and holds a PhD in Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies.
Of mixed white European and Ashkenazi Jewish settler heritage, Rachel was born on Tiohtià:ke (colonial name Montréal), under the custodianship of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, and now lives as an uninvited guest on the stolen lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations of the Lək̓ʷəŋən People. Rachel currently acts as a co-chair for the South Vancouver Island (SOVI) chapter of BCCIC, and works with non-profit organizations towards good practice in governance and operations. A long-time career generalist, she has an MA in African History from the University of Toronto, taught ESL, worked in documentary film and television, and has coordinated and managed community based projects from Vancouver to Addis Ababa, with a focus on media, documentation, and public engagement. Most days, though, Rachel can be found digging in the dirt, seeking missing LEGOs, or singing silly songs with her young child.
Kayla Mudaliar recently received her BA in International Studies with a concentration in Security, Conflict and Development from Simon Fraser University. In Autumn 2019, Kayla had the opportunity to study International Development abroad at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Here, she expanded her knowledge on how inequalities are perceived and understood across countries. Inspired by this experience, Kayla wrote an article for BCCIC’s Leave No One Behind E-Zine about the contemporary sacrifices and inequalities refugee and immigrant students’ face when accessing higher education in Canada. Kayla aspires to pursue a career with a migration or human and gender rights NGO. In doing so, she hopes to work and interact with individuals of all cultures and backgrounds. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys baking, playing sports such as tennis, soccer and dance, and going for hikes and walks.
Sebastian Alexander means majestic conqueror. However, his goal in life is not to conquer but to generate change beginning with the sustainable development goals in striving toward the 2030 Agenda. He is currently a BA Honours student delving deeper into qualitative research that he has been conducting for almost two years regarding the pandemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. His work as a volunteer with the BCCIC includes compiling effective and innovative practices that engage boys and men in the fight toward international gender equality, whilst maintaining an intersectional approach that takes into account diverse voices, perspectives and needs. He takes the firm approach that whilst men and boys must challenge traditional norms that have led to inequalities among genders, it is vital to not replace, but amplify the voices of women and girls until equity is achieved.
Morgane Oger is the founder of the Morgane Oger Foundation, which works across Canada to narrow the gap between our country’s laws and the experience of people impacted by systemic discrimination. Morgane’s work as a community organizer and changemaker is recognized for its success in reaching the hearts and minds of others by working with everyone towards the common good and more-just outcomes. Morgane’s contribution includes education, public-policy advocacy, and organizational governance consulting from an intersectional feminist lens. Morgane also advocates at the side of complainants at the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and provincial human rights tribunals.
Morgane successfully helped organize the push to add gender identity or expression to Canada’s human rights protections which was enacted federally in 2017. Morgane ran for public office in provincial and municipal elections and has served as vice-president of a provincial political party that was in government at the time.
In 2019 Morgane won a key precedent-setting human rights case. The ruling affirmed that in Canada the protection from discrimination on explicitly prohibited grounds includes transgender women and that one person’s right to live free from discrimination is equal to another person’s right to free expression or religious belief. Morgane lives in Vancouver with her two secondary-school-aged children. In 2020, Morgane contributed to the book We Resist – Defending the Common Good in Hostile Times, published by McGill – Queens University Press. Morgane was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor-General of Canada for bringing honour to Canada with her LGBTQ2+ advocacy. In 2021, Morgane was part of the BC CIC delegation to the 65th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Morgane lives in Vancouver, Canada where she is raising two teenagers while working in Technology. She writes through a blog she maintains https://morganeoger.ca and through her Twitter account https://twitter.com/morganeogerbc
Christiana Onabola holds a Masters of Public Policy and Global Affairs from the University of British Columbia, Canada. She had previously worked in Nigeria as a Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant on a National Maternal Health Programme, where she employed a gender-focused lens in implementing health promotion approaches for different population groups and generating demand for maternal and child health services. She is currently a PhD candidate in Health Sciences at the University of Northern British Columbia. Her research interest is in exploring health and its intersections with other socio-ecological issues, especially those grounded in policies. Outside of school, Christiana is a social-change enthusiast involved in policy research and advocacy. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Prince George Public Interest Research Group (PGPIRG). She currently volunteers with British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) as a SDGs Policy Researcher and her role centers around SDGs localization and policy research to advance the Leave No One Behind (LNOB) pledge.
Brianna is passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, PSEA, and sex work advocacy, all reinforced by her studies, volunteer experience at AIDS clinics, and being a support worker in mental health housing. She is a proud member of the VIDEA team, where she works as a Gender and Diversity Program Officer. Brianna’s role at VIDEA involves revising harassment policies, integrating feminist and Indigenous methodologies into programs and activities, and writing a new policy on PSEA and sex work. Brianna is also a member of the Digna Advisory Committee. She holds an undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University in Political Science and International Development Studies and is currently a master’s student at the University of Victoria. Brianna will continue her studies next year at Carleton University for her PhD in Political Science, where she will continue to tackle gender inequality and its relation to Canadian foreign policy’s role in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her specializations will be in International Relations and Gender and Diversity.
Panthea Pourmalek has recently graduated from University of British Columbia with an undergraduate honours degree in Political Science and International Relations, and is a policy and research volunteer with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation. Recently, she created a set of guidelines for the equitable selection and support of youth delegations to international conferences, such as the CSW. She is passionate about facilitating dynamic and meaningful inclusion of racialized youth, women, and gender minorities in important conversations and decision-making tables. Panthea is also interested in Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agendas, and has conducted research on non-international armed conflicts for her thesis on the governance structures of armed rebel groups in civil wars. She hopes that her research will share new insights on protecting vulnerable peoples in areas subjected to extended armed conflict with the policy and academic community and contribute toward greater consideration of these populations in development and human security initiatives. She is looking forward to being a part of this delegation and learning from a wonderful group of fellow advocates!
Mary Pullen is the Program Director at BCCIC. She is excited to be working with organizations and individuals across British Columbia, engaging in issues and initiatives to advance sustainable development and social justice. Over almost 20 years, Mary has held roles as a strategist, facilitator, and capacity builder to further social change, working with local partners, communities, and other sectors. She spent over a decade collaborating with partners in South America to support initiatives focused on youth and women’s economic empowerment, microfinance, community tourism, agroecological farming, and climate change adaptation. Prior to joining BCCIC, Mary served as Program Manager at Community Evolution where she led program strategy and delivery to support community-based enterprises. She previously worked as part of the Sustainable Livelihoods team at Crossroads International, where she managed the Bolivia program and international volunteers. Mary also spent four years supporting women artisans in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where she launched a community economic development initiative for and with women impacted by violence. Additionally, she has designed and implemented gender audits and training with co-operatives in the Philippines, and currently serves as a volunteer program evaluator (M&E) at Employ to Empower. She holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a B.A. (Honours) in Geography from Queen’s University.
With gratitude, and as a guest, she lives, works and plays in Vancouver, BC, located on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples: xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. When not advocating for social change she can be found with her husband, reading, tackling a creative project, or testing a new recipe. If she can’t be found she’s probably by the ocean, on a hiking trail, or playing tennis.
Raseel is a global citizen and leader with 15+ years of experience in the sustainable development and technology sectors. Her expertise lies in strategy, public-private partnerships, ecosystem engagement and policy advocacy. She has a track record of driving growth for organizations that are revolutionizing their sectors, promoting larger social movements and enabling adoption of nascent technologies. She has also played a role in enabling social change and digital innovation across Canada and the world.
Her contributions include generating interest in social impact investing at Acumen; improving the effectiveness of funding for poverty-eradication programs at UNDP; transforming social communication at Hootsuite; shaping policies that enable tech companies’ global competitiveness at BC Tech; managing self-sovereign identity and open finance/open data pilots at ATB Ventures; and advocating for psychedelics-based solutions for healing at Numinus.
She holds an MSc in International Development Studies from SOAS University of London, and a BA in Political Science & Sociology from UBC. She is a BCCIC Board Member, an alumnus of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership program, a CTI coach to young women, a public spokesperson on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, an investor and engaged member of her communities.
A proud member of BCCIC, Cathy Sturgeon works for the International Development Research Centre, is a trilingual international development practitioner, and a leadership consultant. Most recently, Cathy brought her abilities and passion to a Canada-based NGO with a mission to improve the opportunities, environment, and health of millions of individuals across the globe working in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). Cathy is particularly interested in the 5 million or so women working in this mostly informal sector globally, often confined to low paying jobs, under the pressure of harmful customs, practices, and beliefs, and frequently absent from government structures, decision-making, and leadership. Working with cross-disciplinary teams of experts on health, environment, gender, supply-chains, and mining engineers, Cathy led the implementation of multi-year projects in ASGM, such as the Global Environment Facility’s PlanetGold programme in Burkina Faso, a German Corporation for International Cooperation funded project in Guinea, and a US Department of State funded project in Peru, where she had the privilege to work alongside women in rural communities in artisanal mining. In 2019, Cathy has attended the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, the OECD’s 13th Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains in Paris, and the Third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Geneva, where she advocated for the integration of gender and human rights into mineral sector initiatives, gender-responsive due-diligence in mineral supply chain, and the use of gender impact assessments in artisanal and small-scale mining.
Cathy has completed a Master of Arts in Leadership degree at Royal Roads University in addition to her B.Com in International Management and B.A. in Spanish Literature degrees from the University of Ottawa. She had the good fortune of completing portions of her undergraduate degrees in Spain, Mexico, and Australia. Cathy is anticipating the start of her doctoral research in the Fall of 2021 to explore cross-sector partnerships between transnational corporate actors and women’s rights organizations in activities framed as ‘empowering women economically’ and in global supply chains in West Africa. The study will examine how partnerships can facilitate a gender transformative model of empowerment that includes social and political empowerment.
Cathy was a member of BCCIC’s delegation to CSW65, and iis excited at the opportunity to participate in the Paris Generation Equality Forum and learn alongside fellow delegates and the global community of passionate individuals committed to ‘leaving no one behind’. She hopes to engage in meaningful conversations on gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls with an intersectional gender lens, and the extent to which cross-sector partnerships can close the gender equality gaps with transformative actions. She is also curious about the extent to which civil society organizations influence the global policy framework on gender equality.
Kusum Wijesekera currently works in the construction industry as a Commissioning Specialist. She worked with BCCIC to develop Canada’s first Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR), measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) progress for the community of Kelowna, B.C. She hopes this VLR will provide a guide to encourage other communities in Canada to develop similar VLRs, advocating and supporting progress for everyone, including marginalized groups. As an Engineers Without Borders Fellow, she worked in Ghana trying to address food insecurity through edible insect farming. As a registered Project Management Professional (PMP), while in Ghana, she mentored both women and men in developing project management skills and continues to do so today. Prior to that, Kusum was the Chair of GECCO, a Chapter of BCCIC working to support sustainable local and global change using the SDGs as a framework. She has served as Director of Programs and Vice-President for Her International, an organization facilitating community development in Nepal and Canada by empowering women and girls through education via programs such as scholarship and micro-credit. She has also been involved with One Billion Stronger, an international photo campaign aimed at bringing awareness and initiating a dialogue around gender-based violence. Finally, as a former Aerospace Engineering graduate, Kusum has worked tirelessly to encourage more women to get into this historically male-dominated field.
Sophia is the Founder & Executive Director of Threading Change, a youth-led ethical fashion organization working at the intersections of climate, gender, and racial justice in alignment with the necessary transition to a circular economy. Threading Change was born because Sophia wanted to help raise young people’s voices in one of our world’s most polluting industries—the fashion industry. Doing so for our planet, and people. Fun fact, Sophia was actually inspired to start Threading Change after attending COP25 with BCCIC. “So, being a part of a BCCIC delegation is an experience that I cherish and hold very dear to my heart.”
As a dedicated climate justice changemaker, Sophia has worked for over a dozen environmental organizations ranging from federal government agencies (Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada), NGOs (Nature Conservancy of Canada, SPEC, Parkbus, CityHive), industry (CNRL), and academia (UBC, SFU).
One of Threading Change’s main areas of work is our SDG Synergy Ambassadors program. In this program, they are convening global fashion non-profits, brands, and innovators to be mentors to Youth Ambassadors researching the linkages between the UN SDGs and the fashion industry. Their work is backed up by BCCIC, as we’re looking to partner with BCCIC as a potential mentor in the SDG Ambassador Research Program.
As a BIPOC female-led and all-female identifying folx organization, gender equality and the eradication of violence against women is very important to Threading Change. In fact, gender equity is directly built into the mission statement of Threading Change: “We envision a future where fashion is ethical and circular, rooted in justice with climate, gender, and racial equity at the forefront.” In a few months, they are excited to be piloting their 6Fs Ideation Jams, the 6Fs stands for a “Feminist Fossil Fuel Free Fashion Future.” In all the programming that Threading Change releases, they strive to always have a gender lens in the way we approach issues. For International Development week this year, they did 3 IG Lives with three amazing and diverse non-profits discussing the Sustainable Development Goals, and how the fashion industry plays an important role in the agenda to 2030.
The first one was actually with Laurel from BCCIC, discussing the SDGs and how we must keep governments accountable, BCCIC’s success and key takeaways in doing so, and how youth can be involved. The second one was with a Canadian national non-profit, Fashion Takes Action discussing how the fashion industry has such strong interlinkages with the SDGs, and why we must act NOW. The third one was with an international non-profit called Gaubata Garments as part of Himalayan Innovations, a social enterprise working to provide affordable and clean energy solutions to promote the usage of clean energy throughout the Girls4Rurals network in Nepal, where they currently work with over 6039 women!