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Open Society Foundations Name Director for New Work on Women’s Rights

Longtime women’s advocate will focus on economic exploitation and reproductive rights

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations today announced Cynthia Eyakuze as the new director of its redesigned Women’s Rights Program. Eyakuze will oversee Open Society’s efforts to advance economic justice, defend sexual and reproductive rights, and strengthen women’s rights organizations in dozens of countries worldwide.

“Women everywhere are claiming their rights with renewed determination, but instead of respecting women as equal citizens and recognizing their rights, too many governments silence or imprison them, too many employers exploit their labor and destroy their health, too many men respond to their aspirations with violence,” said Chris Stone, president of the Open Society Foundations. “For women to live with dignity in open societies they must control their own bodies, participate freely in civic life, and receive equal treatment whether from courts or corporations.”

“Cynthia’s commitment to women’s rights and empowerment is unshakable, and as an experienced grantmaker, she knows how valuable resources are for individuals and organizations trying to make change on the ground,” said Stone.

Eyakuze, who will start next month, brings to her new role deep experience in women’s rights, honed in years of work at the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, and Family Care International.

“More than ever, we need a strong women’s rights movement to address the backlash against women claiming their rights around the world,” said Eyakuze. “My aim is to help women’s groups—many of which are struggling with a dearth of money and reduced capacity—to promote women’s rights at the global level.”

Since 2007, Eyakuze has led Open Society’s Accountability and Monitoring in Health Initiative, supporting civil society organizations to use community monitoring and applied budget work to push for greater accountability and transparency in the financing and delivery of health care.

The Women’s Rights Program succeeds the International Women’s Program, which focused on reducing violence against women in conflict and post-conflict countries. In 2013, the Open Society Foundations closed the International Women’s Program in order to explore new ways to advance women’s rights through Open Society’s work.


The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

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