Elaine Zuckerman, President and Founder
Gender Action represents Elaine Zuckerman's life, work and passion to ensure
social justice, and equal rights and opportunities for women and men. Elaine
joined the World Bank when she heard that China was becoming a borrowing
member in 1980 and worked there as an economist on China. This preceded
the advent of structural adjustment loans (SALs) and protests against the
Bank. Witnessing the unfolding of structural adjustment, in 1987 she created
the Bank's first program to globally mitigate SALs' harmful impacts on the poor,
especially on women. Later she worked in the World Bank's gender unit where
she had an opportunity to analyze Bank investments around the world across
sectors. She was struck by the paucity of Bank operations that try to empower
women despite Bank rhetoric and studies expressing the urgency to do so in
order to reduce poverty. In the 1990s at the Inter-American Development Bank
(IADB), Elaine designed a strategy for the Amazon that prohibited future
investments in roads and ranching that damaged indigenous groups and the
environment, and instead promoted health, water, education and renewable
resources. She was also Coordinator of the IADB's Social Agenda Policy Group
which promoted equitable education and health financing for all men and
women, girls and boys.
While working in the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), Elaine realized
that citizen groups, which began proliferating worldwide during the 1980s, were
designing the most dynamic, responsive solutions to development problems.
This inspired her, in 2002, to launch Gender Action, a non-profit advocacy
campaign to hold the IFIs accountable on their promises to promote gender
equality and empower women, and leverage the IFIs' power to redress the
unacceptable feminization of poverty. Gender Action's exposure of how over a
trillion dollars in IFI "assistance" has largely neglected and often harmed poor
women is pushing the IFIs to start keeping their promises to empower women.
Gender Action's incessant pressure led the World Bank to embrace the moral
imperative to promote equal men's and women's rights.
While at Gender Action, the IFIs, and consulting for bilateral aid agencies and
civil society organizations such as the International Center for Research on
Women and Oxfam, Elaine has worked extensively on China, Latin America,
Africa and Southeastern Europe on gender issues, violence against women,
poverty, poverty reduction strategies, the social impact of macroeconomic
policies and structural adjustment reforms, social investment funds, education,
health and climate financing, rural development, infrastructure, and
environment projects. While serving on the Association for Women's Rights in
Development (AWID) Board of Directors during the 1980s, she designed and
chaired the first AWID Forum workshop that examined the negative impacts of
structural adjustment on women, featuring presenters from Africa, Asia and
Latin America who told their stories firsthand.
Elaine studied in China for over three years during the Cultural Revolution on
Canadian and Chinese government scholarships. During this time, she
experienced Chinese life by living with Chinese and working on communes and
in factories. She completed her studies in political economy at McGill University,
the University of Toronto and Beijing University and in business administration
at Georgetown University. She speaks and reads Chinese, French and Spanish.
Currently Elaine Co-Chairs the National Council of Women's Organizations'
Global Task Force, and serves on the Board of Promundo-US, the Jubilee USA Network Council - which
works to cancel the illegitimate debt of poor countries, the Caring Economy
Campaign Advisory Council, and in numerous coalitions fighting for social and
Sarah is passionate about increasing women's leadership worldwide, elevating care work as a development priority, and engaging women and men in collaborative efforts for gender equality. She currently leads Gender Action's work in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and the Care Economy. Prior to joining Gender Action, she worked as a campus organizer for PIRG in California, where she trained students in grassroots advocacy and capacity building skills. Sarah also interned in a variety of settings related to women's rights, including reproductive health, political participation, human rights and security. She holds a BA in International Studies from the University of Richmond and an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Gender and Development from the George Washington University.
Claire Lauterbach, Programs Associate
A researcher at heart, Claire has a deep commitment to making development work for women. Claire is responsible for Gender Action's work on Haiti and globally on sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence and food security. Claire comes to Gender Action from Human Rights Watch, for whom she served as a researcher based in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has also worked for the Refugee Studies Centre (University of Oxford) and at the British House of Commons on African affairs. Claire holds an MPhil degree in African Studies from the University of Leiden with a focus on forced migration. Claire speaks French natively.
Sarah Little, Climate Change Program Lead
Sarah leads Gender Action's Climate Change Program. She holds a BA in Political Science from American University and an MA in Democratic Governance from the University of Cape Town. As a Masters candidate, Sarah conducted a quantitative analysis on democracy, conflict and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following the completion of her degree, she worked with The Africa Society in Washington, DC to educate and promote tolerance towards African nations amongst America's youth. Prior to joining Gender Action, Sarah served as the Executive Assistant to the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Joel Lawson, Board Chair and Advisor
Joel assists Gender Action in a variety of strategic, policy and communications areas. A longtime public affairs professional, Joel's work has often focused upon gender, human rights, international affairs, international financial institutions, and HIV/AIDS policies. Joel handled IFI policy issues during his seven years of service on Capitol Hill, including as a senior legislative aide to a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Banking Committee. Joel has also crafted public affairs strategies for major clients at the prominent Washington firm Podesta Associates, subsequently co-owned a boutique consulting firm, and served as Director of Media Relations for Planned Parenthood. Joel has developed public affairs strategies for a broad array of entities across the public and private sectors, including United Airlines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America Online, American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), American Association of University Women, People for the American Way, and many others.
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