Vanessa Vermaak

Vanessa Vermaak is the founding member and Chief Executive Officer of the Ngiyabonga -Human Rights Resources Initiative.

During 2005, she was employed as a Development Officer at the National Office of the South African Legal Resources Centre (LRC). The LRC is an Independent, Non-Profit organisation that conducts public interest litigation in key human rights areas such as gender, children's rights, land, HIV/AIDS, access to justice, etc. As a development officer she fulfilled various functions such as Supporting the National Director and Development Director in their duties; liaising with Regional Directors and Project coordinators regarding the organisation's various litigation projects as well as writing proposals and reporting on these projects to local and international funders; representing the organisation at various functions and events; and networking with partners and funders and potential partners and funders.

In 2004, she completed an internship at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. She interned in the Department of Political Affairs for the Security Council Secretariat. Her internship duties included attending official Security Council Meetings and Closed Consultations; attending the General Assembly Plenary General Debates; reporting and writing on Security Council Activities, Resolutions and Security Council Reforms; dealing with communications from NGOs and the public sector; attending official functions; and attending relevant training courses and seminars. She also completed several UN training courses and acted as editor and photographer for the UN Intern Yearbook.

Over the past 2 years she has been conducting comparative research relating to the 'formal' reconciliation processes in South Africa and Australia, as well as the situations in these two countries since the end of these processes, as part of her masters and PhD theses. She has conducted lengthy research relating, in particular, to issues surrounding Social Justice and Human rights. She spent several months on a research trips in Australia during 2003 and 2004, where she investigated current issues affecting indigenous populations.

During her time at the South African Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), where she filled a number of different positions, she added to my knowledge of Social Justice, Human Rights and Women's issues, as well as increasing her research, liaison and policy development skills. She was chosen by the CGE and their partners in 2002 to be the project manager for their official World Summit on Sustainable development site. During this project (which lasted approximately nine months) she was responsible for oorganising and co-ordinating the venue, funding, donations, sponsorships, events and workshops; setting up the venue, historical exhibitions, etc., training and co-ordination of 400 volunteers; liaising and communicating with media and high profile guests; and general project management and co-ordination. She was also able to complete a course in Protocol.

She was subsequently hired by the CWCI, Fund Secretariat for the European Union, as event co-ordinator for the signing of Partnership for Health between South Africa and the EU. During this event she was responsible for liaison with the Mayor's office, various stakeholders and general administrative and co-ordination of the event. On the day itself she was responsible for attending to the needs of Romano Prodi and other high-level delegates in attendance.

At the end of 2002 she was employed as Policy & Research Assistant at the CGE, where she was responsible for conducting research and information searches relating to policy; report writing; liaising with service providers regarding tenders; logistics for the Annual Report Card Workshops, which included liaising with various government departments as well as the president's office and NGO's, and setting up agendas; and finally general administration and organisational functions. While completing her Masters degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, she assisted the CGE commissioners with various research and administrative tasks and was responsible for co-ordinating the Provincial Conference on Violence against Women. She completed her BA degree in Politics and her honours degree in Politics at the University of South Africa. During her years of study, she completed the following additional programmes all with distinction: Certificate programme in Women and the Law; HIV/AIDS Care and Counselling course; Certificate Programme in Provincial and Local Government Law; Certificate course in 'South Africa since 1960: Apartheid, Resistance and Democracy'; Certificate course in French - Wits Language School. In 2000 she also received a Certificate of Merit from the Department of Political Sciences UNISA for distinction obtained in the subject of Politics and in 2001 she was awarded Best Student for the Certificate Programme in Women

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