María Villellas Ariño is a researcher at the Program for Conflicts and Peacebuilding, School for a Culture of Peace at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She teaches at the UAB Postgraduate Diploma in Culture of Peace and other postgraduate programs at several Spanish universities. She has been a consultant for national and international institutions on issues related to peace processes and the Women Peace and Security agenda. She has participated in several policy making processes such as the consultation process with civil society for the preparation of the II National Action Plan on WPS by the Spanish government and the Action Plan: Women and Peacebuilding in Spanish Co-operation, by AECID (Spanish Aid Agency). She is a board member of the Spanish section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She has written several articles and reports on the analysis of armed conflicts and peacebuilding from a gender perspective, and is the coauthor of the yearbooks “Peace Talks in Focus. Report on Trends and Scenarios” and “Alert! Report on conflicts, human rights and peacebuilding”. She is part of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network due to her experience in providing technical support and comparative analysis to stakeholders involved in peace processes and her involvement in civil society initiatives in promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
Sophia Papastavrou is a citizen of Canada and Cyprus and spent her formative years in Dominican Republic and Ghana before immigrating to Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Her dissertation entitled: Women’s Organizations for Peace: Moving Beyond the Rhetoric of the Cyprus Problem was the result of over 7 years of field research in a frozen conflict zone. She has previously worked on consultancies with the OSCE Mission to Croatia, the World Bank, and the United Nations. Sophia held the role of Gender Technical Lead at World Vision International Middle East and Eastern Europe covering fragile states and the Syria Response. Prior to holding this position, she led the Gender Learning Hub, including management of the Gender Based Violence Regional project. Sophia was a speaker at TEDx Nicosia Women in 2015 and recently, worked with women’s civil society to co- create the first White Book of Best Practice on UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in Cyprus. She was selected as part of the She-Experts initiative by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) aiming to enhance the visibility and impact of women in their professional capacity. She joined the network because of her commitment and passion for women in peace building specifically building gender data and gender assessments to inform gender transformative approaches to meeting the WPS mandate.