Omar is a gay Namibian civil rights and LGBTQ+ activist, with a passion for social justice and community organizing. They hold a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and Gender & Sexuality Studies from the State University of New York (SUNY). At SUNY they were elected as the first international student Vice President of the largest student government in the United States. As a student activist they were instrumental in championing policies that addressed gender equality, police brutality, environmental and racial justice issues across New York. As a former intern for Senator Charles Schumer and Field Organizer for Dana Balter’s Congressional campaign, Omar has extensive knowledge and experience in policy law and grassroots campaign organizing- which they hope to translate in uplifting policies and communities disenfranchised by the political system. In March 2021, Omar co-founded Equal Namibia, a youth-led social movement fighting for LGBTQ+ Constitutional rights. At the helm of the movement they were instrumental in pushing the national government to abolish apartheid-era the Sodomy Law, campaigned for political parties to reform their manifestos and include LGBTQ+ equality and testified at the nation’s first Parliamentary Public hearing on legalizing safe abortions. Their advocacy efforts have championed multiple LGBTQ+ court cases resulted in the High Court recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
As a Master’s alum from the Human Rights and Democratization in Africa program, Omar hopes to use this degree to end State-Sanctioned Homophobic policies in Namibia, and envision a Republic where LGBTQ+ persons are emancipated from the shackles of discrimination. Omar believes LGBTQ+ rights is the civil rights issue of our generation, that is why they expect the HRDA program to be more than just about politics, but about having a cross-cultural understanding and awareness of what’s happening within our institutions and society.
The future is calling, it demands justice, and it demands equality. This depends not on how we understand past oppressions or idealize a future government that works for us all, but it depends on how we act in the present- in the present there is no freedom if there is no equality
In 2016, I completed a Bachelor's degree in public law (Licence fondamentale en Droit public) at the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis (University of Carthage, Tunisia).
I have a 6-year professional experience in project management and coordination, finance and administration, fundraising, M&E and legal research within different human rights organisations. Prior to joining the programme, I worked as a technical legal assistant at the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia, from November 2019 to November 2021.
Gerald is a Liberian lawyer, researcher, and civil society actor. He currently serves as Program Manager at the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), the local chapter of Transparency International. He has over nine (9) years of experience in civil society. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from the University of Liberia and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Honours from the same University. He is a member of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA). Gerald is excited to return to South Africa after three (3) previous work-related visits and already sees the country as his second home. He is looking forward to exploring more about human rights with the HRDA program, particularly how corruption affects realization of human rights. Gerald is a firm believer in God, a Roman Catholic, and a pianist.
Reda Benkhadra is a human rights enthusiast, and has accumulated more than five years of experience with civil society organizations and public entities. Reda holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. In his different roles, he contributed to advance digital rights and support local development through community engagement, research and advocacy. His areas of research and interest include governance, institution building and strengthening, development and access to fundamental human rights. In pursuing the Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa programme, Reda aspires to deepen his knowledge and practical skills using human rights and pan-African lenses, and looks forward to being part of the HRDA community, through which he hopes to build relationships with other peers and explore ways to bring transformational change across the continent.
Sinésio is a Mozambican lawyer trained at Eduardo Mondlane University. Prior to joining the HRDA programme, he worked as an associate at the Maputo-based law firm TPLA – Taciana Peão Lopes Advogados & Associados, Lda., where he focused his practice on key areas for sustainable development, most notably energy and projects. Apart from private practice, he is an active member of a non-profit organization (Associação de Informação Jurídica – Jus Moz) devoted to the empowerment of ordinary people through the promotion of legal awareness. His expectation of the programme is that the same equips him with the theoretical underpinnings and practical skills required to effectively address development-related human rights and democratization concerns from an African perspective. Furthermore, he is keen to forge lasting relationships with human rights defenders from around the continent and eminent human rights academics from around the world.