Specializing in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response, Alicia Luedke has been working in the humanitarian/development world for over half of a decade in the not-for profit sector in east Africa. She started as a volunteer building a school in rural Kenya and then quickly moved to doing much more hands-on work on SGBV and women’s social and economic empowerment in conflict-affected environments elsewhere in the region, including Uganda, South Sudan and the northwest region of Somalia – Somaliland.
Over the past number of years her work in the humanitarian/development sphere has spanned a number of different areas, including responding to the need for land and property rights for vulnerable groups of women and children in South Sudan, advocating on behalf of male victims of SGBV often ignored in conventional donor programming, enhancing community and judicial redress for sexual offenses committed by armed actors in South Sudan’s ongoing war, dealing with the ‘youth crisis’ in Somaliland and its impact on women’s rights, and more recently, looking at the nexus between food security and livelihoods (FSL) and women’s protection in refugee settlements and other fragile contexts.
At the same time, Alicia has maintained an academic career as a Vanier Scholar, Killam Laureate and Political Science PhD student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Building on her professional experience working in East Africa, her PhD dissertation investigates the impact of global policies, specifically the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda (UN Resolution 1325) on armed group practices of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. Her PhD is an extension of her use of research to inform humanitarian praxis in war-torn areas and was the result of her recognition of the significance of research to well-informed intervention strategies on SGBV prevention and response.
When was a time you needed assistance with something that seemed unmentionable at the time? A situation that you would not have been able to get through without tangible support?
Although times are changing and the stigma around periods is lessening somewhat in the West, every woman has an embarrassing story about their period, unfortunately. When I first got my period in the 7th grade I had to go to a pool party, but was staying at a friend’s house. My friend’s mum stepped up to the plate and coached me how to insert a tampon through the bathroom door before the party and I am forever grateful as the thought of having a pad while wearing a bathing suit horrified me. Even as an adult, in a rural area of South Sudan I got my period at the worst of times during a workshop and went on a mission to different pharmacies looking for something to use. It was actually male community members in the area, including a soldier who tried to help me find what I was looking for and encouraged me not to be shy. While I was humiliated, it was actually kind of a nice experience.