Sonke People

Tanya Charles

Policy Development & Advocacy Specialist

Tanya Charles was born in the city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. In 2002, she moved to South Africa to study at the University of Cape Town where she obtained degrees in Social Anthropology, Media and a Masters degree in Justice and Transformation and Human Rights Law. Since 2006, she has worked in a number of capacities including as a researcher, teaching assistant/lecturer and an independent consultant.

She is currently the Policy Development & Advocacy Specialist focusing on policy reform in the mining sector in relation to the health rights of mine workers and their families, particularly women who suffer the burden of care once miners have been retrenched due to ill health. Her work also covers supporting the call for a National Strategic Plan for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) through advocacy with other women’s right s organisations.

Previously, Tanya was the International Programmes Specialist in Research and Knowledge Management where she supported the International Men and Gender Equality Survey – a research study which seeks to build understanding of men’s practices and attitudes related to gender equality in order to inform, drive and monitor both policy development and interventions to promote gender equality.

She was also the Project Coordinator for the MenEngage Africa Training Initiative (MATI) which hosts the annual training course Masculinities, Leadership and Gender Justice in sub-Saharan Africa that provides a platform for activists, researchers, academics, government and UN officials to increase their knowledge and skills of gender transformative programming that is focused on male engagement. More information about MATI can be viewed here.

Tanya was selected as the lead researcher for South Africa by the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in a global project designed to assess the impact of policies and laws on sexual miniroties and has published a report Marriage above all else: the push for heterosexual families in the making of South Africa’s White Paper on Families and a number of  other publications related to this work. 

Her favourite poet is Nayyirah Waheed who wrote, “When I am afraid to speak is when I speak. That is when it is most important”. These are words she strives to live by.

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