The Huairou Commission is structured as a coalition consisting of seven member networks. The Huairou Commission Coordinating Council serves as our main governing structure and representatives of these Member Networks sit on the council. The Coordinating Council is a key space for planning, debating and coordinating efforts among the Member Networks, guiding the overall work of the Huairou Commission.
Chair of Coordinating Council
Jan Peterson serves as the Chair of the Coordinating Council of the Huairou Commission. Her current role comes from 30 years of working in community development. She has been a groundbreaking leader in producing innovative community structures led by grassroots women. In Brooklyn, New York, she founded numerous community-based organizations and developed a Leadership Support Process to help grassroots women to build leadership while working across ethnic and racial lines. Supporting the knowledge and contributions of grassroots women, she also ran the national Institute for Women and Community Development and the Neighborhood Women College Program. Her experience spans from local and national to global work. In the United States she founded the National Congress of Neighborhood Women. She moved from national to global work, playing a founding role in GROOTS International and then the Huairou Commission. She has taught in the faculty of Adelphi University School of Social Work, the Pratt Institute, LaGuardia Community College and most recently at the New School Graduate Program in International Affairs. Under the Carter administration, she worked as the Associate Director in the Office of Public Liaison in the White House, as well as the Office of Policy and Planning and Action, with Peace Corps and Vista.
Ms. Peterson was awarded the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor in September 2009 for her work that spans four decades of commitment to improving grassroots women's lives globally. Because of her strong advocacy, Jan has ensured that the global women's movement incorporates grassroots women's groups and that it takes heed of community development priorities for sustainable human settlements. In addition to raising more than USD 4 million for work with grassroots women, Jan has supported pioneering initiatives such as the Grassroots Academies held at each World Urban Forum and the Local to Local Dialogue Process.
Olenka Ochoa Berreteaga
Federation of Women Municipalists - Latin America and the Caribbean (FEMUM-ALC) Representative
Olenka is a member of the Council Board of the Federation of Women Municipalists – Latin America and the Caribbean / Federación de mujeres municipalistas – América Latina y el Caribe. Since the 1980s, Ms. Ochoa has been an activist in the women’s movement, human rights and political affairs. She serves as the Vice-Director of the Interamerican Centre for Governance, as a member of the experts council of Indigenous Commission of National Parliament, as a member of Cooperation Table of AMPE (National association of Mayors and Municipalities of Peru) and as its Gender Secretariat. During the last ten years, she has had different charges in the National and Municipal Government and promoted Public Policies, Training and Good Practices. Her project “Peacekeepers” with youth in gangs, was awarded the National Contest of the World Bank in 2001. She has several publications, is an international speaker, and consultant to different NGOs and Cooperation Entities for training and strategic planning. She has carried out strategic planning and developed training programs with police, members of the armed forces, public services teams, and grassroots women’s networks. She has developed Municipal Toolkits with authorities.
Olenka is based in Lima, Peru.
GROOTS International Representative
Sandy Schilen is the Global Facilitator of GROOTS International (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood), a global network of grassroots women's organizations. A community organizer with advanced degrees in political economy, Sandy's life and work reflect the rare capacity to bridge the divide between grassroots realities and global policies, between academic and activist, between North and South, and between values and practice. Through her work with the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW), a U.S. network of grassroots women's groups from poor communities, and with GROOTS International, Sandy has two decades of experience in enabling grassroots women's groups to replicate and mainstream their community development approaches and governance interventions through peer-to-peer learning exchanges and local, national, regional and global advocacy. She has facilitated GROOTS members to access local and national governments, multilateral institutions, donors, researchers, policymakers, and mainstream NGOs, in order to challenge and change their institutional cultures, policies and perspectives.
Sandy is based in New York City, United States.
GROOTS International Representative
Esther Mwaura-Muiru is the founder and coordinator of GROOTS Kenya (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood), a network of more than 2000 self-help groups from poor communities in urban slums and rural areas across the country. Thanks to her leadership, grassroots women in the GROOTS Kenya network have built a solid network and taken leadership roles in their own communities. They have also represented themselves at local, national, regional and international decision-making forums including. Esther’s motivation to begin organizing and community development work arose from her background, growing up in complete poverty in a rural section of Kenya’s Central Province. She carried herself through school tilling the farms of her rich neighbors, and earned a merit scholarship to attend University. Esther is also a regional organizer for GROOTS International and the Huairou Commission in Africa.
Esther is based in Nairobi, Kenya
GROOTS International Representative
Solome Mukisa is a citizen of Uganda who has been working to promote and advance grassroots women’s participation in political processes for the past 22 years. Ms. Mukisa was a freedom fighter in the resistance movement during the civil war from 1980-1986. After two years of exile in Kenya, Ms. Mukisa joined the liberation movement where she fought with many other women for three years. Since then, she has been promoting the importance of women’s participation in leadership position in all levels of government, particularly in the parliament, which helped shape the affirmative action in effect that gives women the right to 1/3 of political positions at all levels of government. In 1986, she served as the Deputy Director of Women’s Affairs for the National Resistance Movement Secretary. While serving as Deputy Director in 1994, she was also elected to the Constituent Assembly to re-write Uganda 1995 Constitution. Immediately after the civil war, in her role as Deputy Director, she mobilized grassroots women to participate actively in political protocol and decision making. In 2002, due to her constant work in the communities with special focus on promoting women’s participation where she found the immediate need to strengthening the community work, Ms. Mukisa resigned from her governmental position to become the director of UCOBAC where she had been serving as chair on the board since 1995.
Solome is based in Kampala, Uganda
Solome is a member of the Executive Committee of the Coordinating Council.
Ms. Bozhkova is the director of Information Center of Independent Women’s Foundation (ICIWF) of Russia, a support infrastructure for a network of information centers “orienting themselves to the ideas of feminism.” A physicist by profession, she has been an activist on women’s issues since 1985. She has participated in the UN Women and Habitat Conferences, is a current coordinator of the Association of Independent women’s Organizations, a participant in KARAT, a network of Eastern European and Russian NGOS. Ms. Bozhkova speaks regularly on gender issues and civil society. Her organization received the 2002 Best Practice Dubai Award for “Information Centers As New Social Institutes For The Empowerment Of Women And Habitat Agenda Promotion." It was also awarded for “Building a safe city together” for a Women’s Safety Award 2004, through Women in Cities International, Canada.
International Council of Women
Since 1985, Lily has been engaged in voluntary work and grassroots women’s activities. She is a founder (and still a member) of a local “Women’s Advisory Committee (VAC)” on housing and the living environment, that assess the livability aspects of spatial plans and layouts for social housing including safety in neighborhoods. Now Lily Hutjes is involved in gender and development politics at the local, national and international level. Her work aims at awareness-raising on gender(mainstreaming) issues, enforcing an inclusive bottom-up approach in decision-making processes and bringing the voice of grassroots women, based on their expertise and opinions, into governmental decision-making processes, and ensuring that, via a holistic approach, crosscutting issues of the MDGs agenda are addressed. Lily has been involved in meetings and conferences with UN Habitat for many years.
Lily is based in the Netherlands.
She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Coordinating Council.
International Council of Women
Emmy Galama joined the International Council of Women (ICW) in 1996 while preparing its OUR Best Practice display for the UN-Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, and made her presentation in the ICW-workshop “The future of the next generation” at the NGO Forum. Since that moment she shares her expertise as Permanent Representative of ICW to UN-HABITAT (Nairobi) and UNECE-EHLM (Geneva). Educated in the biochemical medical sector, she is focusing on sustainable housing and a healthy and safe living environment for women, men and their families.
She also brings 25 years of experience with Women’s Advisory Committee for Housing and the Environment (VAC) a Dutch volunteer organization for housing and the living environment and is chair of the Provincial Board of VAC Zeeland. At the local and provincial level, Emmy Galama is active in social housing, is initiator and chair of self-help-groups, social-cultural work and handicapped people, and she is a volunteer for the Netherlands Red Cross.
Women and Habitat Network – Latin America
Liliana Rainero is an architect and teaches at the National University of Córdoba in the Faculty of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. She is also a researcher for the Faculty's Housing and Habitat Institute, Director of CISCSA - the Centre for Exchange and Services Southern Cone Argentina and the Coordinator of the Women and Habitat Network Latin America. She has researched and worked - from a gender perspective - on topics related to habitat and public policies for over a decade. She has been invited to speak at various seminars, conferences, and different spaces of academic exchange. She also worked as a consultant for the Women's Area of various local level governments, and is currently working as a member of the Coordinating Group of the Regional Safe Cities for Women Program, funded by UNIFEM and AECI. She has authored and co-authored a wide range of books and articles, a selection of which are available at www.redmujer.org.ar.
Liliana is based in Cordoba, Argentina.
Maria Teresa (Maite) Rodriguez
Women and Peace Network
Maite Rodriguez is the Director of Fundacion Guatemala. She leads the Women and Peace Network, in coordination with the Arias Foundation. She worked for at least 10 years directly with grassroots women's movements struggling for land rights and women's rights. She currently serves on the UNDP Gender Expert Task Force, UNDP Gender Unit, and on the Coordinating Council of the Huairou Commission.
Maite is based in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Maite is a member of the Executive Committee of the Coordinating Council.
Women in Cities International
Caroline Andrew is a Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her areas of research are municipal government and particularly the relationships of community-based women’s groups to local governments. She sits on the Board of the Lower Town Community Resource Centre in Ottawa and of the Urban Affairs Association. She is on the steering committee of the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP) and of the City for All Women Initiative, an organization based in Ottawa which works to allow the voices of the full diversity of women be heard in the City of Ottawa. Caroline is the president of Women in Cities International.
Representative of participating groups from Asia
Maria Fides F. Bagasao has worked as a community organizer and activist for 30 years. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Leaders and Organizers of Community-Based Organizations in Asia (LOCOA) in South Korea after many years serving as the Executive Director of Community Organizers Multiversity, a capacity building institution for marginalized communities in the Philippines. Named the 2005 Outstanding Citizen of Nueva Ecija for Community Organizing, Fides began her work at the Philippine Ecumenival Council for Community Organization in 1976. She has also been a facilitator and consultant in a variety of global events, including the Grassroots Women International Academy in 2004 and Ubuntu Village: International Workshop on Best Practices in 2002. Fides currently serves on the board of Asian NGO Center, Community Organization of the Philippines, and Leaders and Community Organizers of Asia. She has a M.A. in Sociology from University of the Philippines and a B.S. in Social Work, also from University of the Philippines.
Fides is a member of the Executive Committee of the Coordinating Council.