Liesl is the Executive Director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organisation. She is an expert on women’s rights in Africa and has worked and written extensively on violence against women and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. Her work at Human Rights Watch has included documenting access to safe and legal abortion in Ireland and sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Liesl worked for some of the key constitutional institutions promoting human rights and democracy in a post-apartheid South Africa, including the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality. A lawyer by training, she was involved in high-profile, strategic human rights litigation to promote women and children’s rights, including a case that changed the definition of rape in South Africa.