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Maria Vlahakis

Job title
Head of Governance and Inclusive Societies Portfolio
Email address
SDDirect Team

Maria is part of the Gender-based Violence (GBV) team at SDDirect. She is a social inclusion and gender equality professional with strong feminist values, specialising in violence against women and girls and women’s participation and leadership. She has worked in policy and programming roles in the development sector and in partnership with diverse women’s rights organisations in Africa and Asia. 

Maria is an advocate for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights, including making visible women and girls with multiple and intersecting discriminations. Throughout her career, Maria has increasingly combined policy and programming roles and is committed to working with partners to create a more supportive legal and policy environment for programmes to have the greatest impact.  

At SDDirect she provides technical assistance and leadership across a range of gender-based violence projects, covering multiple forms of violence, in offline and online spaces. She works closely with the Governance and Inclusive Societies team on disability inclusion and social inclusion more broadly. Before joining SDDirect Maria was Policy & Advocacy Manager on Violence Against Women and Girls at Womankind Worldwide, and Social Inclusion and Gender Adviser at Voluntary Service Overseas. She has previously worked in policy roles in the UK voluntary sector and UK Government. 

Her interests are on the intersection of women’s rights with other human rights, including disability rights, LGBTQI+ rights and internet rights. In her spare time Maria likes meeting new people, learning new languages, walking, travelling and cooking.