Liesl Gerntholtz is the executive director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch and a member of its executive management team where she leads its institutional initiative on diversity and inclusion. She is an expert on women’s rights and has worked and written extensively on violence against women. Her work at Human Rights Watch has included documenting access to safe and legal abortion in Ireland, sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, and sexual violence in conflict in Libya.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Ms. Gerntholtz 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.