ACPF appoints human rights and gender champion as Executive Director

The International Board of Trustees of African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) has announced the appointment of Dr Joan Nyanyuki, a human rights and gender equality champion, as ACPF’s new Executive Director effective 15 February 2020. Dr Joan Nyanyuki, a Kenyan national, joins ACPF from Amnesty International where she served as Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes region. Prior to joining Amnesty, Dr Nyanyuki was the Executive Director of Coalition on Violence against Women, an organization that worked to promote gender justice and equality.  In this role Dr Nyanyuki led advocacy campaigns and movement-building for meaningful change to women and girls’ rights, supported local community organizations to develop effective activism and growth, and engaged with law and policy makers to uphold women’s rights and gender equality. Dr Nyanyuki worked on advocacy against torture while at Independent Medico-Legal Unit in Kenya where she led the anti-torture organization in research and advocacy against state-perpetrated torture. She was instrumental in documenting sexual violence and killings in Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007/8 and advocating for international justice for these and related crimes. 

As a physician Dr Nyanyuki also provided technical and research support, among others, to Physicians for Human Rights in their Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, acting as a co-investigator into the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/8, and to the Kenya Medical Association in developing its human rights programme. Early in her career Dr Nyanyuki served as a General Physician providing clinical care to patients in various public and private health institutions in Kenya. She earned her medical degree from Moi University and undertook advanced graduate work in human rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr Nyanyuki has built a reputation as a human rights and gender equality champion, having carried out research and published on sexual violence and human rights violations. She has also written several op-eds in national and international media advocating for victims of human rights abuses and in particular for justice for sexual violence survivors, women and girls.

In announcing her appointment, Mrs Graca Machel, Chair of ACPF’s International Board of Trustees, said, “I am delighted that Joan has agreed to be the new Executive Director of our dynamic organisation. She brings a wealth of experience and skills in human rights advocacy and organizational leadership that will take ACPF to greater heights and advance its work on state accountability to Africa’s children. Her background in medicine and her excellent academic and practical experience in human rights advocacy will no doubt be put to good use as ACPF enters a new phase under a new leadership.”

Outgoing Executive Director and founder, Dr Assefa Bequele commented, “I am thrilled that we have found Joan. She is academically and intellectually strong, young, dynamic and infectiously enthusiastic. To my mind, the best is yet to come for ACPF.”

In taking up her position, Dr Joan Nyanyuki said, “I feel honored to be joining ACPF, especially at this time, at the start of a new decade when our African countries have an opportunity to change the future of our children as they aim at achieving the targets set by the AU’s children’s agenda and the UN’s SDGs. Africa’s future will depend on how much our governments invest in their children, and I’m looking forward to leading ACPF in working towards a more child-friendly Africa where the wellbeing and aspirations of our children can become our shared reality.”


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