Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, is an internationally recognized leader with thirty years’ plus proven track record, multilateral experience and competencies in gender analysis with international human rights and policy framework.
Esther is currently the Federal Republc of Nigeria’s candidate to the United Natios CEDAW Committee 2021-2024
Esther’s career has been focused on proffering policies and delivering services to enhance women’s financial inclusion opportunities, rights protection, economic empowerment and engagement in peace and security processes. She is a gender policy appraisal and mainstreaming expert with excellent multilateral and bilateral relations trajectory as well as on-the ground experience of working with State Parties (SPs) and National Women’s Machineries (NWMs) to create platforms that facilitate their work. Results have stemmed from experience in impactful policy formulation, action-oriented research and strategic/innovative approaches for undertaking gender diagnosis on thematic issues in different cultural settings. She has held multiple leadership positions in different national, bi-lateral and multi-lateral development institutions including Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Key Professional Achievements
- Pioneered ground-breaking study on Gender, Trade and Public Procurement in India, Kenya, Australia and Jamaica and helped to unveil potentials of women’s empowerment through gender sensitive procurement policies and mechanisms. This contributed to the reactivation of the Global Gender and Trade Network and the Commonwealth Business Women’s Network (CBWN) now active in 26 countries, the Commonwealth Centre of Excellence for Women in Procurement and many gender inclusive economic models across the Commonwealth (CW) and beyond. She is now a member of the senior management team and International Advisory Group for the CBWN.
- Established Gender Responsive Budget and Management Systems through Pan CW capacity building for Cabinets and Legislatures; Organized Regional and National Judicial Dialogues to deepen understanding of Stereotypes and Gender-based Violence by the judiciary in CW countries; engaged with CW Law Ministers and as CEDAW Committee member supports OHCHR Judicial Dialogues in Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia. These have resulted in targeted action plans and measures by CW Women Affairs, Finance, Law and Trade Ministers as well as Judges, Magistrates and Judicial Officers.
- With CIDA as the National Gender Equality Advisor, Esther facilitated the establishment of the Donor Gender Coordinating Group in 2003 (still existing), first dedicated donor gender fund for women by CIDA and brokered the mainstreaming of gender into the $30m Nigeria Donor Basket 2007 Elections Fund. She led the gender management system for the award-winning PROSAB – CIGAR Agricultural Project in Borno, Nigeria.
- Led the review on the National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR1325 and development of model 2nd NAP, Zonal and State Action Plans on Women Peace and Security for effective local to national implementation.
Convener/Founder, Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiative (WADHI): A Nigerian organization committed to finding customized solutions to inequalities, gender injustice and exclusion, particularly women’s continued exclusion from financial and economic markets, technology and peace and security management processes. Chairperson Ministerial Technical Committee on Private Sector Initiatives: task is to build partnerships and collaboration to facilitate the development of private sector led stimulus initiatives to promote gender sensitive corporate social responsibility, inclusion, accountability and good governance drawing on the competencies of women from all walks of life and mobilizing male gender champions
- Masters in Women Studies, University of Washington, Seattle (1996)
- Graduate Certificate in Public Policy, University of Washington, Seattle (1996)
- B.Ed (Hons) Guidance Counseling, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1980)
- Value-based Leadership (Certificate) Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, Colorado (2011)
- Global Leadership Exchange (Certificate) Eisenhower USIA Exchange Programme, (2003)
- Women’s Leadership (Certificate) African Women’s Leadership Institute, Uganda (1999)
- International Institute of Education (Certificate) Hubert H. Humphrey Programme (1996)
The UNCEDAW Work
In 2018, Esther was meritoriously nominated to serve on the CEDAW Committee to fill up the void occasioned by the demise of Nigeria’s representative and based on consultations with state and non-state actors and donor support, she set up the CEDAW Hub as a virtual support tool to enhance understanding of CEDAW among stakeholders, with over 100 grassroots women’s organizations trained and accessing to date limited.