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Meet Our Team

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Anahid Avsharian
Anahid Avsharian
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EXECUTIVE ADMINISTRATOR

Anahid has over 20 years of administrative experience in technology, law, education, finance, human resources, arts and entertainment, hospitality and tourism, and sales and marketing. She served on the board of the Elizabeth Freeman Center providing support to domestic and sexual violence survivors and was a foster parent for emergency placements of children ages 11 and under. Anahid has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, New York Cares, and various environmental groups and food pantries. She also volunteered as a technology presenter in biometric authentication at multiple community college STEM workshops for middle school girls. Anahid holds a BA in Telecommunications from Michigan State University, with a background in radio and video production as well as broadcast television. She won an international award for her first film when she was 16. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and two college age children. In her free time she enjoys theater, film, travel, music, playwriting, beachcombing, gardening, and participating in women's sprint triathlons.

Book Recommendation - The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Film Recommendation - Catherine Called Birdy

Shero - My Mother: artist, feminist, activist, matriarch, business manager, athlete, moral compass

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Anna Hall
Anna Hall
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CHIEF STORYTELLING OFFICER

Anna Hall is a writer and producer who is passionate about creating change through storytelling. She has worked at the intersection of news, media, non-profits, government, academia, entertainment and the private sector, producing content for a range of brands and organizations. These include: The Daily Beast, Global Citizen, The Future of StoryTelling, Tribeca Film Festival, Chicago Ideas Week, Sesame Workshop, The Vera Institute of Justice, The Washington Post, Disney Imagineering, the United States Dept of Justice The World Science Festival and MoMA. She is the former Editorial Director and Co Executive Producer of Women in the World where she led the editorial team on 8 global summits at Lincoln Center. She is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.

Book Recommendations -  All We Can Save

Film Recommendations - All That Breathes

Shero - My Mum. She is courageous and kind in ways I cannot fathom.

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Brenda Giacometti Komel
Brenda Giacometti Komel
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SENIOR MANAGER, INSTITUTIONAL & CORPORATE GIVING

Brenda holds over 13 years of experience in the development sector in her home country Argentina,  across Latin America, and in Asia and Africa leading programs focusing on human and children’s rights, education and vocational training, and gender equality. She was Program Coordinator in the Ministry of Social Development in Argentina, led Samsung’s Corporate Citizenship department in the Southern Cone (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and the Diversity and Inclusion initiative at the Latin American level. She was part of UNICEF’s Children Rights & Business team. and has also been part of multiple non-profits in Argentina and abroad, and has both teaching and consulting experience. 

 

She holds a Master’s in International Studies from the Universitat de Barcelona, two post graduate’s diplomas, in Corporate Social Responsibility (UCLM), and in International Women’s Health and Human Rights (Stanford University). She also has a B.A. in Political Sciences, from the Pontificia Universidad Católica.

Book Recommendation - La Guerra Más Larga de la Historia

Film Recommendation - The Neighborhood Storyteller

Shero - Anne Firth Murray, Nobel Peace Prize nominee

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Christina Lowery
Christina Lowery
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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Christina Lowery is passionate about storytelling as an engine of social change. As CEO she leads the strategy and execution of Girl Rising’s expanding work around the globe. Central to this work are the production of new films and other media, the implementation of education programs, the Future Rising program, and engagement with public and private sector partners, media partners, educators, and grassroots supporters. Under Christina’s leadership, Girl Rising expanded its work across eight countries, collaborating with 40 global education partners and reaching more than seven million youth in 2022. She led the launch of Future Rising, focused on girls’ education as one of the most potent solutions to climate change. Christina’s passion for storytelling is grounded in decades of experience in documentary film and television. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas, Austin.  She was part of Aspen Institute's 2022 SOAR Fellowship.

Book Recommendation - Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Film Recommendation - Hidden Figures

Shero - My mother Mary, one of the most competent, can-do people I know

Cristina Valderrama
Cris Valderrama Martinez
Cristina Valderrama Martinez
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DIRECTOR INDIVIDUAL GIVING AND MAJOR GIFTS

Cris grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia and began her career working for Colombian-based corporations in the areas of Communications and Public Relations. Excited to explore the power of communication and storytelling to catalyze social change, she pursued her M.A from Ohio University in Communication and Development Studies, focusing on Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Her background in the International Development sector includes working for the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute at Ohio University, designing and implementing strategies to create awareness about the risks of infectious diseases in low-income countries. Over the past three years, she led the Development efforts at MEDLIFE, a Peruvian-based non-profit. Her work contributed to the success of a global virtual fundraising campaign during the peak of COVID-19, resulting in the implementation of mobile clinics, soup kitchens, and other structural solutions to tackle food insecurity and lack of healthcare access during the pandemic in vulnerable communities in Perú, Ecuador, and Tanzania.

Book Recommendation - Bananeras by Dana Frank

Film Recommendation - The Punk Singer

Shero - Policarpa Salavarriera 'La Pola' - a Colombian revolutionary, integral to the 18002 resistance movement.

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Divya Joseph
Divya Joseph
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SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Divya comes with a decade of experience in communication, community organizing and fundraising for nonprofits. She has worked at the national and international level, helping organizations push the needle on critical issues such as racial justice, health access and gender equity. She has rolled out communication initiatives in countries such as Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Peru, and built strategies for nonprofits in partnership with the UN women and the UN Working Group on Girls.

It is her life’s passion to make the world recognize that true dynamic global change starts from a girl and women-focused approach. 

Book Recommendation - Godel, Escher, Bach

Film Recommendation - Little Miss Sunshine

Shero - My grandma,Caroline, who educated herself against odds

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Karen Sanchez
Karen Sanchez
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COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE

Karen is a Colombian indigenous descendant of the Zenú people. She is a passionate journalist with a minor in political sciences, dedicated to amplifying the voices and stories of indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and diverse women and girls. Having served at the Intercultural School of Indigenous Diplomacy at the Universidad del Rosario for four years, she supported hundreds of indigenous and Afro-Colombian women in subjects such as leadership, human rights, territorial defense, collaborative communication, and women's rights in Colombia.

 

In 2021, she initiated the creation of the first native digital media outlet on Instagram (Zaku-u) that shares stories of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and diverse women who are effecting positive change in their communities and globally. She firmly believes in the power of social media to impact issues such as social and gender equity, and racial justice. She emphasizes the transformative potential of the stories we tell ourselves, recognizing their capacity to redefine our reality.

Film Recommendation: Twenty Something by Aphton Corbin

Shero: Her grandmother, who overcame barriers to raise three strong daughters 

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Khuzama .heic
Khuzama Rizwan Khan
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DIRECTOR OF PROGRAM QUALITY AND LEARNING

Khuzama holds over fifteen years of experience working in the development sector, in Pakistan and internationally, on issues related to child protection, education and women's economic empowerment. Khuzama’s strengths in program management and partnerships have enabled her to design and deliver programs in both development and humanitarian settings. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology from Pakistan and in Development Studies from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is a food-lover and a nature enthusiast: traits that bring her peace and motivate her to achieve an equitable world where all people can sleep on a full stomach and hold respect in their hearts for nature and life.

Book Recommendation - Manto Nama

Film Recommendation - My Octopus Teacher

Sheros - I bask in the glory of my sisters, friends and colleagues, who have been unstoppable since the moment they realized they deserve better

Naomi Ramos
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Naomi Ramos
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GUATEMALA MANAGER AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Born in Mexico City to Japanese and Mexican parents, Naomi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. She has over 10 years of experience in international education at different universities in Mexico and the Fulbright program. She is also a trained therapist for women who experience gender based violence. Being the daughter of a woman who was the breadwinner in the family in a context where this was not the norm, Naomi grew up understanding the pressing need to bridge the gender equity gap in all spheres of women’s lives and sparked her passion to build agency in girls and women.

In her spare time, Naomi loves running, karaoke, board game nights and experimenting in the kitchen. She lives in Mexico City with her husband and two noisy but endearing dogs.

Book Recommendation - In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Shero - Jameela Jamil: She’s an advocate for women’s rights and speaks out against diet culture in media.

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Nidhi Shukla
Nidhi Shukla
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PRESIDENT

As a trained lawyer, Nidhi brings an unwavering commitment to social justice in her role with Girl Rising. With nearly 20 years of experience, she has brought together the art of storytelling and powerful advocacy to positively impact marginalized populations. Nidhi has worked with Lawyers Collective, Heroes Project - Richard Gere Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University - Centre for Communications Program to fight discrimination against those living with HIV using advocacy strategies, mass media campaigns and the influence of celebrities. Most recently, Nidhi served as the Vice President of Global Health Strategies where she focused on improving access to new child health interventions through advocacy and communications. In her spare time, Nidhi enjoys traveling and spending time with her daughter.

Book Recommendation - A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Richa Hingorani
Richa Hingorani
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GLOBAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Beginning her career with a leading news channel NDTV, Richa soon became one of its youngest producers. Keen to work with marginalized communities directly, she made a switch to the nonprofit sector, and joined a civil society organization called Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), where she set up its media and communications department and create robust communication models to spread awareness about women’s empowerment and girls’ access to education. She progressed to join a start-up, Indus Action, where she built an expansive campaign to bridge information gaps regarding a provision under Right to Education Act. She holds a Masters in Development Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Book Recommendation - Desperately seeking Shahrukh Khan

Film Recommendation - The Great Indian Kitchen

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Virginia Terry
Virginia Terry
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VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS 

Virginia has been leading organizations in developing strategies for environmental and social impact for nearly 20 years. She was a consultant specializing in sustainability strategies for Sustainability Inc. and BSR working with international corporations such as Nike, KKR, AT&T, PVH, and Anne Inc. on climate change, supply chain responsibility, and human rights issues. She was an Adjunct Professor at the New School where she developed and taught new courses for the Sustainability Certificate program.  Since 2012 she has been leading non-profits’ fundraising efforts, as a consultant for the Brooklyn YWCA, EveryArtist, and Interpeace, and as Associate Director of Development at iMentor and Development Director at GallopNYC.  She holds an M.A. in Environmental Management from NYU, where she first learned about the tremendous ripple effects of girls’ education on society, the economy, the environment and public health. Virginia lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and three children.

Book Recommendation - Beloved

Film Recommendation - Maiden

They-ro - My oldest child, Charlotte, cancer-researchers and social justice champion.

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Andrea Rodas
Andrea Rodas
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GUATEMALA PROGRAM ASSISTANT

Andrea Rodas is a Guatemalan artist, activist and anarcho feminist. She is passionate about justice, freedom and rest. Growing up, she was always interested in learning more about the world and challenging what she felt was unjust. 

 

While pursuing a degree in psychology, she was met with several challenges regarding gender, disability, privilege, Homophobia and Transphobia. This made her reconsider her studies and started her involvement in queer activism and culture. She has been part of several activist spaces and collectives focused on abuse, restorative justice, pleasure and rest, mainly within the non-binary and trans community.  

 

In her free time, she loves to play the drums, read, go thrifting, stay at home with her cat and support equity activism.

Book Recommendation - Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Film Recommendation - Princess Mononoke

Shero - Tricia Hersey: poet, performance artist and activist, advocate for rest as a social and racial justice issue, founder of The Nap Ministry

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Apurva Vurity
Apurva Vurity 
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INDIA PROGRAM MANAGER

Apurva has 6+ years of experience in impact-driven project management and strategic communications in the social sector in India. Her diverse roles across Community-based organizations, International NGOs, Political and Social Impact consulting helped her understand the sector and its role deeply. Through her work in organizations such as Dasra, Girl Effect, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Prerana, and Indian Political Action Committee, Apurva used the power of storytelling, research and communications to contribute towards long-term impact amongst the most vulnerable communities in Asia. Apurva’s education in Literature and Women’s Studies played a key role in inspiring her to work in the social sector and to bring a gender-sensitive perspective to the table. She firmly believes in the power of empathetic listening and always aspires to channelize that belief system into her work.

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Cata Chacon
Cata Chacon
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FUTURE RISING SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER

With a background in mental health, grassroots development, and education, Catalina has dedicated over 10 years building an equitable world for women and girls across Central America. Born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents and raised in Costa Rica, Cata deeply understands the value of generational change and is determined to create a better future for all. She began her journey in environmental activism but discovered a passion for youth development, leading her to co-found the Sirenitas Surf Club in Nicaragua – a community space built to empower girls through surfing, swimming, and education. Through her work, she hopes to build a world where girls can dream big and have the tools to accomplish them.

Catalina holds a BA in Psychology from Universidad Centroamericana de Ciencias Sociales and a Master’s in Gender and Peacebuilding from the University for Peace. She’s certified in art therapy by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She’s also the mother to a wild-spirited four-year-old girl and three loving dogs.

Book Recommendation - Blue Mind

Film Recommendation - Ixcanul

Shero - Marielos Mora (my mother): Broke chains of generational trauma with love

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Cristina Marzo
Cristina Marzo
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VICE PRESIDENT FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

Cristina's experience includes working for over 6 years at Pro Mujer, a women's development, health and Microfinance nonprofit that provides its clients with a set of integrated services. Her latest position was as Finance and Grants Manager. Previously, she had worked as a Business Development Trainee at Citibank. She has also served as a PTA Treasurer at P.S. 89 in New York City. Cristina holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Universidad Federico Santa Maria and a Master in Marketing from Universidad Pontificia Comillas, ICADE. She is also fluent in Spanish and lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two daughters.

Book Recommendation - The Smartest Kids in the World

Film Recommendation - Waiting for Superman

Shero - Maria de Farah: My 96 year old grandma. She was a widow at 53 and kept working until she was 83. Still calls everyone on their birthday!

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Debborah Odenyi
Debborah Odenyi
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KENYA PROGRAM MANAGER

Debborah is currently serving as as the Kenya Country Coordinator of the Girl Rising-Global Education Fund. This Fund provides small grants to NGOs focused on quality learning in Kenya, Guatemala and India. 

 

She is a passionate educator, championing for Girls’ Education, Leadership and Empowerment Programs. With over 20 years of service in education, previously was the Education Program Officer at Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). Earlier, she taught in both International and National curriculum schools in Kenya. Worked with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in Kenya in different administrative capacities in public schools. She studied Education at Eregi and Kaimosi TTC’s, Kenya Institute of Special Education and Kenyatta University. 

Book Recommendation - Talking Gender

Film Recommendation - Kipchoge -The Last Milestone

Shero - Prof. Wangari Maathai - Kenyan Politician and environmental activist; first black African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004

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Jessica Viada
Jessica Viada
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ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Jessica brings 15 years experience in nonprofit development around social justice issues, managing foundation, corporate, and government relationships. She is passionate about showing funders the impact they can have on a cause they care about and understands the power of storytelling, having earned an M.F.A. in fiction from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans and a B.A. in English Literature from Boston College. Jessica is the proud daughter of Honduran immigrants and has travelled extensively throughout Latin America. She began her development career as a grant writer at the NALEO Educational Fund focusing on Latino civic participation. Her background includes experience working in the arts, education, and young women’s health. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs.

Book Recommendation - Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Film Recommendation - City of God

Shero - My great grandmother Paula Leonor Gomez Celis - a product of early marriage who raised 10 children as a single mother in a country not her own.

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Kenny Prince
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 DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Kenny has over 5 years of experience providing database management, customer service, and program support to educational nonprofits. He received his BA in Visual Media Arts with a concentration in Film from Emerson College, which, along with his previous work at organizations like the Tenement Museum in NYC, has given him a strong belief in the powerful role that empathetic storytelling plays in liberation. He lives in Queens, NY and enjoys riding his bike around the city, talking film and tv, and finding a new favorite sandwich spot.

Book Recommendation - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Film Recommendation - The Gleaners and I

Shero - My Grandmother. At 96 she won the Everyday Hero Award for her community service. 

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Margarita Jalca
Margarita Jalca
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FINANCE ASSISTANT

Margarita holds over 12 years of accounting and finance experience in diverse industries in her home country Ecuador, and across America and Asia. Her latest position was as Chief Accountant for a large Chinese company, and has also worked as an advisor for Ecuadorian SMEs.
Margarita holds a master degree in Business Administration from ESPAE ESPOL and a Bachelor in Public Accounting. She strongly believes that learning foreign languages changes people’s lives, that’s why she is fluent in Spanish, English and she is learning Italian. In her free time she enjoys teaching, music, theather, and going to the beach with her husband and her 3-year-old daughter.

Book Recommendation - The Silver Sword

Film Recommendation - My Octopus Teacher

Shero - My mom: Mother of 4, helped our family by giving education and love.

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Nicole Savini
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EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Nicole Savini is a Peabody Award-winning producer with roots in political comedy and experience across television, live events, and academia. Her producing work includes late night comedy programs such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Colbert Report, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and the animated satirical news show Tooning Out the News, but, by far, her best productions are her two (also hilarious) children. Nicole studied Television Production at Boston University and earned an MFA in Writing from Emerson College in Boston. She spends as much time as possible near the Atlantic ocean, where she grew up, and loves hiking, live theater, and planning neighborhood talent show acts with her family and friends.

 

Book Recommendation: The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion 

Film Recommendation: Spellbound (the documentary)

Shero (a strong woman who inspires you. Please keep it to seven words): Teachers, especially my mom and sister.

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Olive Martin
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FUTURE RISING ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Currently serving as Associate Producer at Future Rising, Olive manages the execution of production logistics for international films, aligning with the organization's mission of empowering girls through education. As the sole Researcher for @hellotefi on TikTok, Olive curates research packets with a discerning editorial eye. Past roles include contributions as a Production Assistant at ABC News' Decision Desk, providing vital election data for correspondents and producers. Additionally, Olive played a crucial role in project management as Assistant to Executive Producers at "Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News." Olive's diverse background also includes serving as the Social Media Coordinator at the Institute of Contemporary Art- Philadelphia and Constituent Service Intern at Senator Elizabeth Warren's office.

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Sonal Dhanani 
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PAKISTAN COUNTRY MANAGER

Sonal has around 12 years of experience in the areas of human rights, peacebuilding, and gender equality. Sonal is a Harvard Graduate of Public Narrative Executive Leadership program and holds a graduate diploma in Gender studies from the University of Iceland and a peace and conflict resolution diploma from Chulalongkorn University Thailand. 

 

Sonal was a member of Pakistan’s first National Youth Council by Prime Minister Imran Khan. She has participated in organizing literary seminars and events celebrating the work of artists and writers in promoting peace and harmony by harnessing the positive energies of expressive arts. She sees art as a uniting force between people irrespective of race, religion, caste, color, gender, ethnicity, or language. Sonal has been engaged with national and international organizations for community resilience programs as a trainer, bringing trauma-informed programming approaches to peacebuilding and gender programs. 

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