Meet the team
President and Founder – Margaret Owen OBE
Margaret Owen is a barrister specialising in women’s human rights. She has previously worked as an immigration and asylum lawyer, as head of the Law and Policy division of International Planned Parenthood Federation, and as a consultant to various UN organisations.
Following the death of her husband she became acutely aware of the plight of widows overseas, particularly in conflict and AIDS afflicted countries. She founded the first international organisations to address human rights issues in the context of widowhood, and is now the president of WPD, Widows for Peace through Democracy, which is the umbrella for many partner organisations across the world.
She is also a founder member of GAPS- UK (Gender Action on Peace and Security). She is a regular participant at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and has been the consultant on widowhood to the UN.
Consultant – Alice Lees
Alice has a BA in Arabic, French & Italian from St John’s College, Cambridge, and an MA in Journalism from Birkbeck, University of London. Before becoming Consultant to WPD she worked in Strasbourg for the Council of Europe’s Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States and its Sub-committee on Conflicts between Member States.
Specialising in Human Rights and International Development, over the past decade, Alice has acquired a wide range of skills and experience for empowering the world’s most deprived citizens.
Her portfolio includes publishing and copywriting for major UK charities; campaigning with a Peace Coalition to raise awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; helping establish a customised Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum for young children worldwide, and PA and international conference work in Geneva and the USA for an African charity working to advance African women’s neonatal health.
Alice has enjoyed living and studying in Egypt and Italy and has visited Nepal and Sri Lanka during periods of internal conflict. Recognising that widows are one of the most neglected groups within the already globally marginalised cohort of women, she feels privileged to work with Margaret Owen and the Board of trustees on WPD’s invaluable and urgent mission.
UN Representative – Susan O’Malley
Susan O’Malley, Ph.D, was Chair of NGO CSW/NY [Committee on the Status of Women, New York] from 2015-2019 and Vice Chair from 2011-2015. She worked with the CSW/NY Planning Committee, UN Women, and CSW chairs Ambassador Antonio Patriota (Brazil) and Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland) to organize over 400-500 events for the CSWs 61-63.
Strengthening the working together of the seven sister NGO CSWs (Arab MENA, Geneva, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Vienna, Asia Pacific and New York), Susan also co-chaired the CSW/NY Study Group; preparing members to intervene in the CSW Outcome Documents.
She is UN representative for both the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW) and WPD and is a cellist in the UN Symphony Orchestra.
For 36 years before UN involvement, Dr. O’Malley was Professor of English and Liberal Studies at the City University of New York. She is author, co-author, and editor of six books including Custome Is an Idiot, Jacobean Pamphlets on Women (2004), Moving the Mountain Women and Social Change (Feminist Press), and of other publications on Shakespeare, higher education and disability.
In 1975 Susan co-founded the open-source journal Radical Teacher (University of Pittsburgh) and serves on its editorial board. Her awards include Fulbright, NEH, Mellon, PSC/CUNY, Huntington and Folger Library fellowships and grants.
From 2002-2006 Susan was Faculty Trustee and Chair of CUNY Faculty Senate and was on the Executive Committee of the Professional Staff Congress for 8 years. She has an AB from Smith College and an MA and PhD from Tulane University.
Web Team – Chris and Andrew
Chris Crowstaff and Andrew Sampson (volunteers) are a husband and wife team who are passionate about developing websites and an online presence for charities and grassroots organisations, inspired by their visit to women’s groups in rural regions of Uganda in 2009.
In 2013, Chris received a Katerva Award for Gender Equality at the United Nations in Geneva (presented by the President of ECOSOC), for working to promote under-represented grassroots groups focusing on women’s issues.
Andrew and Chris began helping WPD in 2014, when they had the honour of meeting Margaret Owen for the first time, and are now responsible for maintaining the website and updating content. Chris assists with our social media, along with Alice Lees.
Chair – George Gelber OBE
George is an economist, author and independent consultant with a long and varied experience in international development and human rights gained through working in Christian Aid, CIIR, CAFOD and Development Initiatives.
Initially focused on Latin America development and human rights issues in the 1970s and 1980s he subsequently set up CAFOD’s Public Policy Unit, which leads CAFOD’s advocacy on international development and provides policy input for CAFOD’s campaigns. He led CAFOD’s advocacy on international debt, international trade, the global electronics industry, mining and its impact on rural communities.
As a consultant, George has evaluated, advised and researched on the impact of aid policies, bringing to light the experience of communities on the receiving end of aid and private sector development, working for the ILO, CAFOD, HelpAge, Jesuit Missions, the British Council and UN agencies among others.
He is an experienced writer, editor, evaluator, interviewer and facilitator. He is Director of BealesGelber Consult, an independent social development consultancy.
Sylvia is Director of BealesGelber Consult, inclusive social development consultancy. She is strategic partnerships advisor to Gray Panthers and to the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), organising partner of the UNECE Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCEM) on behalf of older persons and founder of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing (SGA).
With extensive programme, policy, advisory and evaluation experience in global ageing, disability, gender and inequality gained with the United Nations, international civil society organisations and the NGO sector Sylvia works with and advises the Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and Action for Sustainable Development (AFSD) on ageing, disability, inequality and the SDGS. Sylvia is a distinguished Fellow of the International Council of Social Welfare and a volunteer refugee guide for the Helen Bamber Foundation for survivors of human cruelty.
Pat Holden OBE
Pat Holden holds a BA and MA from Birmingham University and an M.Litt in Social Anthropology from Oxford University.
Pat began her career working as a teacher in Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and Egypt before training as a social anthropologist at Oxford University. She worked as a researcher at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford and taught at Sheffield Hallam University. She edited and co-edited Women’s Religious Experience, Women in Peace and War and Anthropology and Nursing and co-authored Children in Cities.
From 1988 to 2008 she was Senior Social Development Adviser, Deputy Head of Social Development Department and Senior Gender and Rights Adviser in the UK Department of International Development (DFID). From 1997 –2001 she was seconded to the UK Mission to the UN in New York , and from 2001-2003 to the ILO in Geneva and from 2005-2007 as Senior Social Development Adviser in DFID Barbados . Since 2008 she has worked as an independent Social Policy Consultant.
A part-time English teacher in adult education and committed feminist: in 2006, one of my female students here in London suffered an acid-attack as punishment for an arranged marriage that went wrong. It was my epiphany moment and I joined UN WOMEN UK.
I am actively involved as a trustee of the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO) UK which is regularly consulted by the UK Government’s Gender and Equalities Office. As part of the All Parliamentary Group on North Korea I support one of the very few safe spaces where North Korean women and girls can speak out on behalf of their sisters who continue to suffer appalling violence in North Korea.
I look forward to sharing my experience by joining Widows for Peace and Democracy as an advocate, activist and Trustee.
Hugo Charlton is a practising barrister at Central Court Chambers and is an international human rights lawyer. He is on the List of Counsel for the International Criminal Court, a member of the Panel of Defence Lawyers for The Special Tribunal for the Lebanon, and a Legal Advisor to the Kurdish Regional Government’s Genocide Awareness Task Force. He is a former Chairman of the Green Party of England and Wales and Governor of the Royal Humane Society.
Hugo has produced and presented two television documentaries, one on election monitoring in Eastern Turkey and the other on environmental issues and post conflict society in Guatemala.
He is a liveryman of the Merchant Taylor’s Guild. He lives in London and is married with two daughters.
Cleo studied Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge. During her studies, she specialised in Human Rights and the role of International Organisations in maintaining peace and security. Prior to working at WPD, she has worked in development, researching and producing reports for the United Nations. She is strongly into women’s rights and the promotion of women’s empowerment.
For more than ten years she has volunteered extensively, curating and organising all female art exhibitions and events and leading art therapy sessions with refugees. She has worked with human rights organisations in both London and Palestine, conducting research on child prisoners in Aida refugee Camp.
She is currently working at the charity re-build and the British Red Cross in refugee projects alongside her role at WPD.
Robert Jones works at the House of Commons. He read History at Girton College, Cambridge and is a postgraduate student at the University of Oxford.
Robert is a committed feminist and has attended UN Women and CEDAW conferences as a delegate for WPD.
A keen sportsman and linguist, Robert speaks German and Spanish and enjoys cycling like his relative Beryl Burton, though not to her standard. He has founded and managed a girls’ football team in Madrid and a men’s five a side team in London.
- Brita Schmidt, Executive Director – Women for Women International.
- Baroness Sally Greengross OBE – Treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Equalities.
- Baroness Haleh Afshar OBE – Chair, Women’s Studies, York University.
- Baroness Helena Kennedy – chair of Justice – the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists.
- Baroness Joyce Gould – Permanent Chair, UK Women’s National Commission (WNC).
- Baroness Emma Nicholson – Patron of the British Council’s Creative Spark.
- Baroness Fiona Hodgson – Honorary Vice President of the Conservative Women’s Organisation.
- Charlotte Onslow – Director, International Alert.
- Maggie Baxter – former Executive Director of Womankind Worldwide, UK Programme for Women.