Melissa Upreti

Country: India
Areas of expertise: Human rights; GBV

Melissa Upreti is an internationally recognized human rights lawyer who has spent over two decades advancing gender equality and promoting accountability for human rights by using national, regional, and international law and mechanisms, and engaging with governments and civil society.

She has led mega-research projects and fact-finding missions, undertaken strategic litigation, built the capacity of civil society organizations and advised governments on legal and policy reform. Upreti served as Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, a Special Procedure of the Human Rights Council, from 2021-2022, and will complete her tenure in October 2023. She has been a Fellow in the University of Toronto Law Faculty’s International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program since 2017, and previously held the position of Senior Director of Program and Advocacy at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University (2017-2022,) where she conceptualized and led multi-year initiatives of the original Global 16 Days Campaign to End Gender-Based Violence and helped launch the Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence (JiG). Prior to that she was Regional Director for Asia at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she built and led the Asia program for 16 years (2000-2016) and, among other notable achievements, spearheaded the creation of the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI), which has produced groundbreaking strategic litigation and legal precedents spurring law reform on reproductive rights in South Asia. Upreti is widely published and holds law degrees from India and the United States. Her professional experience and activism span the globe. 

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