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Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership at Penn Carey Law, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, will be a special advisor to the new United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee on Gender Apartheid (Photo from Penn Carey Law).

Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership Rangita de Silva de Alwis will join the new United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee on Gender Apartheid as a special advisor, according to the announcement on Jan. 23. 

Members of the British Parliament launched the committee on Jan. 8 to investigate the conditions of women and girls in Iran and Afghanistan. The Gender Apartheid Inquiry, which is chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy, will analyze the situation within an international legal framework through research, written testimony, and live hearings.

De Silva de Alwis is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In addition to advising the inquiry, she will draft language on gender apartheid for the U.N. committee's General Recommendation 40, which promotes the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making. 

Gender apartheid is not currently considered an international crime. This language will represent the first reference to gender apartheid as a crime in international norm creation, according to the Almanac announcement. The inquiry will report its findings to domestic and international organizations throughout the process.

De Silva de Alwis is a longtime expert in women’s rights. She serves as the associate dean of internal affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and director of the Global Institute for Human Rights. She also leads the Forum on Advancing Inclusive Leadership.

Beyond Penn, de Silva de Alwis is a member of the Women, Peace, and Security Focal Point Network. She also serves on the U.N. Women High Level Working Group on Women’s Access to Justice and as advisor to gender equality at UNESCO.

Previously, de Silva de Alwis was the inaugural director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges at Wellesley College. In 2021, she was named the Hillary Rodham Clinton Distinguished Fellow on Gender Equity by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security. 

She has been involved in many transnational networks, such as the Women’s Leadership Network in Muslim Communities, and has advised organizations such as UNICEF and U.N. Women about state accountability under human rights treaties. 

De Silva de Alwis has also published in various journals, including the Penn International Law Journal. In her paper “Holding the Taliban Accountable for Gender Persecution,” which will be published by Cambridge Press, de Silva de Alwis discusses the legal standards of gender apartheid and the status of women's rights in Afghanistan. 

“Although the current locus of the paper is focused on Afghan women, it has larger implications for all other crimes of gender persecution," she wrote.