Brenda Akia is the first Ugandan to be elected to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She was elected in June 2022 and emerged second out of 23 candidates. Akia’s membership to the CEDAW Committee is significant for Uganda and Africa because it shows our commitment to attaining gender equality and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Uganda’s confidence in Akia’s candidature and membership to the CEDAW Committee manifests our commitment to inclusivity and dedication to providing women and girls of all ages with equal opportunity to be part of decision making at all levels. At the CEDAW Committee, Akia hopes to reflect the voices and lived realities of women and girls, including women with disabilities, female migrants and refugees impacted by discrimination and human rights violations in the recommendations and decisions made by the CEDAW Committee. She hopes to use her competence and extensive legal and research experience on a broad range of areas of international law, such as international criminal law, international humanitarian law, transitional justice, international environmental law, international law, and international human rights to make a meaningful contribution to the execution of the CEDAW Committee mandate.
Akia is a Ugandan human rights lawyer and has completed her Doctor of Laws (LLD) in International Criminal Law from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She is a laureate of two human rights awards, the Franco-German Peace and Reconciliation Award and the Women for Women Human Rights Award in recognition of her human rights efforts in changing abusive and discriminating laws, policies, and practices and pushing for accountability for international crimes and girls and women’s rights abuses. She has extensive experience leading and managing human rights projects, including fact-finding field and desktop research, investigations, monitoring, and analysis into issues and questions of international human rights; girls and women’s rights; climate change; humanitarian law; transitional justice; international law; women, peace and security, and international criminal law. She has worked at the international, regional, and national level, including the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative, a joint undertaking of the African Union, the World Bank, and the UN General Assembly to address climate mobility; the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda), Kampala, Uganda; the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, New York; Chambers Appeals Division of the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, The Netherlands, where she is listed as Assistant to Counsel; International Organization for Migration (IOM); The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region- Regional Training Facility (ICGLR-RTF) on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence; and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania as a legal researcher.
She uses her skills and competence to document and highlight international crimes and rights violations against girls and women, challenge abusive and discriminatory laws, push for accountability for international crimes and women and girls’ rights abuses, and advocate for legislative, administrative, and other measures to address the gendered impact of climate change. Her efforts have resulted in positive legislative, policy, and programmatic reforms and criminal convictions. Akia is a laureate of the Future Leaders Invitation Programme of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. She has an LLM in International Criminal Law from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany in cooperation with the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. She studied international criminal law at the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, Nürnberg, Germany, has an LLB from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda and Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center, Kampala. She also studied at the UONGOZI Leadership Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam, University of Nairobi, and Makerere University and is enrolled as an advocate of the High Court of Uganda and all Courts Subordinate.