Current SVRI Leadership Council

The SVRI Leadership Council is a group of experts representing diverse disciplines and organisations from around the world that work on research and interventions on violence against women and violence against children. The leadership council provides strategic guidance and its members act as international ambassadors for the SVRI.

Dr Chi-Chi Undie (Co-chair)

Dr Chi-Chi Undie is the Technical Director and Senior Associate at Population Council. For a decade she has coordinated and provided strategic and technical oversight for the Population Council-led Africa Regional SGBV Network – a network of partners that designs, implements and tests innovative response models to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in low-resource settings in eastern, southern, and the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region. Chi-Chi’s research centres on interventions to address to violence against women and children. Several of these interventions have been adapted and taken up in refugee and non-refugee settings to meet the needs of adult and child survivors in the region. She holds an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland, was formerly a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellow and, later, an associate research scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center. She currently serves as chief executive officer and research director for FCDO-funded research program consortium ‘Baobab: Filling Gaps in Evidence to Enhance SRHR among Vulnerable Populations in the East and Horn of Africa’.

Alessandra C Guedes (Co-Chair)

Alessandra Guedes is currently the manager for Gender and Development Research at the UNICEF Office of Research Innocenti based in Florence, Italy. She has worked intensively in the areas of public health and prevention of violence against women and violence against children for over 20 years, including as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Advisor for the Americas. She has published widely on this topic and is particularly interested in the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. Alessandra is the recipient of a British Chevening scholarship and holds an MSc in Public Health for Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an MA in Art Therapy from George Washington University. She is currently the co-chair of the Leadership Council of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) and was previously vice-president of the board of Promundo, an international NGO working with men and boys to promote gender equality. She has participated in various professional groups and consortia including the Post-Abortion Care Consortium (co-chair of Safe Motherhood Task Force), the International Emergency Contraception Consortium, and the Latin American Consortium for Emergency Contraception (as a member of the Steering Committee).

Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno (SVRI Forum Chair)

Dr Claudia García-Moreno is a physician from Mexico with a masters in community medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has over 25 years of experience in health care delivery, research and policy, working in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Claudia’s work focuses on sexual and reproductive health, women’s health and gender in health and she previously led the World Health Organization’s work on gender, women’s health, violence against women, and HIV/AIDS in women and girls, and was the coordinator of the Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health and Adolescence team in the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research. She also coordinated the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, a large research initiative involving over 15 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Claudia is a founder of the SVRI and a member of the leadership council. She is also chair of the independent advisory board of What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls, is co-chair of the FIGO Working Group on Gender-based Violence, and previously chaired the steering committee of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS.

Professor Rachel K Jewkes

Professor Rachel Jewkes is a founder member of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and Secretary of the SVRI from 2006-2019, before the formation of the leadership council. She is the Executive Scientist for Research Strategy and Intramural Units at the South African Medical Research Council and an honorary professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health. Rachel is a medical doctor with public health specialist training who has led South Africa’s research on gender-based violence (GBV) for three decades. She established and led the South African Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit, which has described the prevalence, risk factors and drivers of GBV in South Africa and developed an understanding of the socio-cultural context, particularly located in highly patriarchal gender relations. She has developed and evaluated multiple interventions to prevent GBV and assist survivors across a range of sectors from community to schools and the health sector, with a particular focus on rape, post-rape health care and the health sector response. Rachel was the lead technical advisor for the UN Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific which conducted research in nine sites in six countries. She was the consortium director of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Global Programme from 2013-2020, which led a programme of research and intervention design and delivery towards the prevention of violence against women and girls in 13 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, MENA and Central and South Asia. She is a member of the Global inter-agency Programme Advisory Committee (GPAC) for the UN Trust Fund. Rachel is an A1-rated scientist from South Africa’s National Research Foundation and is the author of nearly 400 peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, training manuals, intervention curricula and book chapters.

Elizabeth Dartnall

Liz is a health specialist with over 20 years’ research and policy-making experience on health systems, mental health, violence against women and children. Having worked in several countries, in both government and research positions, Liz has a deep understanding of the policy process and use or research to inform policy and practice. For example, in South Africa, Liz worked for the Department of Health at both provincial and national levels in epidemiology and health information systems. In Australia she worked in mental health for the Western Australian state government. Since 2006, Liz has managed the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), and recently with support of multiple partners, launched SVRI as an independent NGO. The SVRI, with more than 6600 members, is one of the largest networks in the field of research on violence against women and violence against children. The SVRI produces leading publications and materials; strengthens research capacity, provides research grants and technical assistance for research on violence against women in low and middle income countries; and hosts the key global biannual event in the field – the SVRI Forum. Liz is committed to research and policy-making that is women centred, ethical, equitable and partnership based. Further, through the SVRI and our partners we are reversing the global imbalance in research capacity and resources to ensure research on violence against women in low and middle income countries is led by researchers in low and middle income countries and knowledge production is driven by research priorities and needs of the global South.

Professor Heidi Stöckl

Professor 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.

Tesmerelna Atsbeha

Tesmerelna Atsbeha is a senior program officer on the Women’s Rights team at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Her grantmaking focus is reproductive rights in Latin America and the global prevention of violence against women. She currently supports the creation of the Shared Advocacy Agenda Accelerator. Tesmerelna is also a member of Philanthropy Advancing Women’s Human Rights (PAWHR), the Human Rights Funders Network, the Global Philanthropy Project, and serves on the board of the Funders for Reproductive Equity. She is also part of the Global Women’s Institute leadership council. Tesmerelna previously worked at UNWomen in the policy division and at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health as part of the International AIDS Care and Treatment Program (ICAP). Prior to that, she was part of sexual and reproductive health research and implementation projects with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Global Fund, and several academic institutions. She holds a BA in international relations from Brown University, a MSc in public health for developing countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and an MA in organizational psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Professor Kumudu Wijewardena

Professor Kumudu Wijewardena is an emeritus professor of community medicine. Kumudu was a co-chairperson of the Standing Committee on Gender Equity/Equality of the Universities Grant Commission (UGC) planning and coordinating university education in Sri Lanka. Previously, Kumudu was the first female dean to work at the faculty of graduate studies at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura where she was responsible for training and awarding diplomas, masters, and doctorates in humanities, social sciences, science, management and medical disciplines. Kumudu is a research leader in adolescent health, gender-based violence and in monitoring and evaluation. She has carried out both quantitative and qualitative research across Sri Lanka examining health issues of vulnerable populations including adolescents, single mothers, sex workers, pregnant women, women in menopausal age, estate populations, migrant workers, children of migrant workers and war widows. She has over 80 research publications – some in very prestigious journals, which have resulted in presidential awards – and reviews articles for more than eight prestigious journals.

Joanna Włodarczyk

Joanna Włodarczyk is the head of the research department at the Empowering Children Foundation. The foundation is one of the biggest organizations in Poland, and the local leader for central and eastern Europe in the field of violence against children. She holds a master’s degree from the Institute of Applied Social Sciences at Warsaw University and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Abused Child. Theory, Research and Practice. Joanna has extensive experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative surveys in the field of violence against children.