The Women in Refugee Law (WiRL) network comprises academics, refugees, activists and practitioners from different countries.
Find out more about convenors and Steering Group members of the WiRL from their short profiles below.
The Steering Group is guided by its Terms of Reference (PDF), agreed in September 2022.
The list of members is regularly updated. If you would like to join WiRL, please contact Dr Moira Dustin (M.Dustin@sussex.ac.uk).
Dr Christel Querton (on leave February 2023-January 2024)
Dr Christel Querton is a Wallscourt Fellow in Law at UWE Bristol and has worked for over ten years in the field of refugee, immigration and human rights law. Her research explores international refugee law, armed conflicts and gender. Christel previously practised as an asylum, immigration and human rights barrister and worked with the Women’s Project at Asylum Aid as Legal Policy Officer (2010-2012) and then as Advisory Committee member (2012-2019).
Dr Moira Dustin
Dr Moira Dustin is module convenor and tutor on gender, sexual identity and age in the refugee context, part of the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is Lecturer in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex, where from 2016 to 2020, she was the UK lead on the European Research Council project, SOGICA - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: A European human rights challenge. Moira was also an Advisory Committee member of the Women’s Project at Asylum Aid from 2009 to 2019 and previously worked at the Refugee Council in the UK.
Loraine Masiya Mponela (February 2023-January 2024)
Loraine Masiya Mponela is a Migrants Rights Campaigner and a Poet based in Coventry, England. She is the ex-chair for Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG) 2018-2022. CARAG is a peer support group which is for and run by people seeking asylum, refugees, migrants and anyone subjected to the UK Immigration and Asylum system. Loraine sits on the Board for Women for Refugee Women and on the Management Committee for Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) among others. Because of her community work with CARAG, Loraine has been recognised as an ‘Everyday Hero’ by Coventry city of culture 2021. She is originally from Malawi and has recently been recognised as a refugee. Loraine is the author of I was not born a Sad Poet. Loraine has a lovely son.
Nicola Robbins (email@example.com) is completing an MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She sits on the Board for Kent Refugee Action Network, a charity that works with separated young people who are seeking asylum or have recently been granted refugee status in Kent, UK. Nicola brings over 15 years of experience working in communications-focused roles and has managed diverse stakeholders. She is particularly interested in exploring and challenging the dominant media framing of people who seek asylum.
Steering Group Members
Professor Deborah Anker
Deborah Anker is Clinical Professor of Law and Founder of the Harvard Law School Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC). She has taught law students at Harvard for over 30 years. Author of a leading treatise, Law of Asylum in the United States, Professor Anker has co-drafted ground-breaking gender asylum guidelines and amicus curiae briefs. Professor Anker is one of the most widely known asylum scholars and practitioners in the United States; she is cited frequently by international and domestic courts and tribunals, including the United States Supreme Court. Professor Deborah Anker is a pioneer in the development of clinical legal education in the immigration field, training students in direct representation of refugees and creating a foundation for clinics at law schools around the country.
Professor Heaven Crawley FAcSS
Professor Heaven Crawley joined Coventry University in September 2014 from where she leads the MIDEQ Hub, which explores relationships between migration, inequality and development in the Global South. Educated at the Universities of Sussex (1989-1994) and Oxford (1995-1999), Heaven has more than 30 years' experience of migration research in a wide range of institutional settings (government, voluntary sector, national and international organisations, academia). Heaven’s work is underpinned by concerns about the inequalities with which international migration is often associated:
- global, local and social inequalities that limit human potential and shape decisions to migrate
- inequalities in opportunities to move safely, often linked to gender, ethnicity or age
- inequalities in access to protection, work and rights
- inequalities in the representation of concerns and interests around migration which often decontextualise migration from broader processes of social, political and economic change
- inequalities in the construction of knowledge around migration processes and outcomes including the marginalisation of migrants and scholars in the Global South.
Heaven has published extensively on a wide range of asylum and migration issues including gender issues in asylum processes and was a founding member of the Refugee Women’s Legal Group (1996-2002). Her book, Refugees and Gender: Law and Process (2001), remains a seminal work in this area.
Professor Liliana Jubilut
Professor Liliana Jubilut holds PhD and Masters degrees in International Law from Universidade de São Paulo and a LLM in International Legal Studies from NYU School of Law. She is a Professor at Universidade UniSantos where she coordinates the UNHCR Sergio Vieira de Mello Chair. She was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School and a Visiting Fellow at the Refugee Law Initiative. She is a member of: IOM's Migration Research Leaders’ Syndicate, the Global Academic Interdisciplinary Network from the GCR, and the Academic Council on the Global Compact for Migration. She is also Publishing High-Level Adviser for the IOM.
Dr Sara L McKinnon
Dr Sara L McKinnon is Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Politics and Culture in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with affiliations in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Latin Americas, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, and the Human Rights Program. She is the author of Gendered Asylum: Race and Violence in US Law and Politics (University of Illinois Press, 2016), which charts the incorporation of gender provisions in US refugee and asylum law within the context of broader national and global politics. Her current work examines US foreign policy rhetorics that frame Mexico as violent. Drawing on archival research and field work, this project examines how violence in Mexico is imagined, what is erased as violence, the material impacts of this discourse, and what this image of the country does for US geopolitical and economic interests.
Maggy Moyo is a selfless human rights campaigner. She is passionate about advocating for human rights including the rights of immigrants, migrants, marginalised groups (e.g. LGBT rights) and those of vulnerable women, children, the disabled and the elderly. She fights against social injustice and advocates for equality. She is a trustee at Manchester Rape Crisis. She is currently working for Right to Remain as the Organizer for Manchester for “These Walls Must Fall” (TWMF) campaign, a network of community-based campaigners who are part of a movement to end immigration detention in the UK. Right to Remain is a registered charity which works with communities, groups and organisations across the UK providing information, resources, training and assistance to help people to establish their right to remain and challenges injustice in the immigration and asylum system. She is also an active member of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe and is in the Executive Committee of the North Branch of their UK Chapter.
Professor Karen Musalo
Professor Karen Musalo is the founding director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at UC Hastings. She is lead co-author of Refugee Law and Policy: An International and Comparative Approach (fifth edition), as well as numerous reports, book chapters and articles. Professor Musalo has litigated major cases in gender asylum, serving as lead attorney in Matter of Kasinga, counsel in Matter of R-A-, amicus in Matter of A-R-C-G-, and co-counsel in Matter of A-B-. She has received numerous awards for her pioneering legal work, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lehman College in 2012. Her current research focuses on gender based violence in the northern triangle countries.
Lore Roels (she/her) is a doctoral researcher and FWO fellow in the Migration Law Research Group at Ghent University (Belgium). She holds a Bachelor and Master of Laws degree from Ghent University, as well as an LLM degree from LSE, specialised in asylum law, gender and human rights. During her studies, Lore interned for (Belgian and Ugandan) sexual and reproductive rights NGOs, refugee rights NGOs, migration law and human rights law firms, and the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation. Lore’s doctoral research echoes UNHCR’s concern that asylum authorities base credibility assessments on stereotypical gender perceptions. She applies the concept of ‘rape mythology’ to European asylum procedures based on sexual and gender-based violence.
Professor İkbal Sibel Safi
Professor Dr İkbal Sibel Safi is a professor of Public International Law and Refugee Law at Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir, Turkey. Currently, she is the head of the EU Law department at the Dokuz Eylul University, Faculty of Law and the director of Dokuz Eylul University Research Centre for Women's Rights, DEKAUM.
She graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Law and completed her first LLM degree in European Union Law and Institutions at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Law, and her second LLM degree in International Public Law and Refugee Law, at the University of East London, Law School. In the last year of her doctorate, which she started in the field of International Public Law at the University of Bucharest, she attended the University of East London as part of the EU integrated doctoral cooperation program and completed it with an honour degree. Afterwards, she worked in the field of Refugee Law at the University of East London in the United Kingdom and worked on research projects as an associate member at the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) in the UK. She did post-doctoral studies at Queen Mary University Law School UK as a visiting fellow.
Her main fields of study are: particular social group criteria in Refugee Law and inconsistencies in court decisions, EU Law, Human Rights Law, Human trafficking in international law and Refugee Law, PSG on cultural relativism.
Dr Kalyango Ronald Sebba
Dr Kalyango Ronald Sebba is a lecturer in the School of Women and Gender Studies and the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. His PhD topic is Returning home: Gender and Choice among Internally Displaced Persons in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. He teaches courses on women in conflict and post-conflict situations; forced migration; refugee livelihoods and household economy; migration health, gender-based violence and children in conflict. Currently, he is a co-coordinator on a Certificate course - Migration Health, run by the School of Social Sciences Makerere University, Center for Health and Migration - University of Vienna and supported by the IOM. He has coordinated two collaborative programs between Makerere University and the University of Oldenburg, Germany, that is Implementing Migration Studies (IMMIS) and European Masters in Migration and Inter Cultural Relations (EMMIR). He also served as Senior Education and Training Officer for the Refugee Law Project in Kampala between 2000 to 2002 where he established a training program on Human Rights and Refugee Law. He has worked as a national consultant for several organisation such as School of Oriental and African Studies, UK; the World Bank, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, FAO, UNFPA, WHO, American Refugee Committee, Regional Centre for Quality of Health Care and Fredrich Ebert Foundation among others. Ronald is a member of several academic associations such as the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) and Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Social Science Research Council among others.
Professor Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso
Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso is Professor of Political Science at Babcock University in Nigeria. She has spent over 15 years conducting field research on protection issues affecting African refugee women on the continent at various stages of their displacement, from exile to return. Olajumoke was Global South Scholar-in-Residence at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland; African Studies Association Presidential Fellow; and Visiting Professor at the Rapoport Centre for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, amongst others. Her refugee research has been supported by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the International Development Research Centre, the American Council of Learned Societies, and so on. Dr Yacob-Haliso’s most recent publication on African refugee women is a chapter in the ground-breaking Palgrave Handbook of African Women’s Studies, while other articles are published in African Affairs, the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, and others.
Natasha Yacoub is a refugee law practitioner and scholar. She has worked for the UN Refugee Agency for 19 years - including postings in Sudan, Egypt, Myanmar, UNHQ New York, Australia and the Pacific - and was a decision maker on the Refugee Review Tribunal of Australia. She is a PhD scholar at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, undertaking a feminist legal theory analysis of the law governing refugee return. She teaches on the MA programme in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London.
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