Mary Balikungeri is a Gender, Peace and Conflict resolution advocate with over two decades of experience in championing women and girls rights. She is the founder of Rwanda Women’s Network; a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to the promotion and improvement of the socio-economic welfare of women in Rwanda with an estimated reach of 150 000 people annually. Balikungeri’s activism for social change extends to regional and international level. She is currently the Chairperson of the African Network of Women Shelters (ANWS), an affiliate of the Global Network of Women Shelters (GNWS) in which she serves as the representative of ANWS, board member of the Huairou Commission and a member of the UN Women VAW – Peace and Security Reference Team. At national level, Mary is the Chairperson for the Joint Action Development Forum (JADF) at district level. Balikungeri’s ability to network widely has informed the gender equality and women’s human rights agenda at national, regional and international platforms. These include Profemmes Twese Hamwe, FEMNET, and Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiation for Advancement of Women (EASSI) and Global Network of Women Peace builders.
Balikungeri is a current recipient of the Commonwealth Points of Light (2018) award for her outstanding work in promoting the rights of women and girls. She continues to champion women’s rights through empowering women and girls to take up leadership roles, challenge the status quo and promote social transformation.