Melene Rossouw

Founder Women Lead Movement | Human Rights Lawyer

Melene is an internationally recognised gender and human rights activist, global award winner, public speaker, moderator, facilitator, strategist, and consultant. She is an attorney by profession with 13 years experience in the private, governmental, and non-governmental sectors. Melene graduated from the University of the Western Cape with a Bachelor of Laws (LL. B) and Master of Laws (LL.M) specialising in Public and Constitutional Law.

Some of the positions she has held were attorney, legal researcher, national cabinet committee secretary, special advisor to the minister and ministerial media spokesperson. Melene has served in respected offices such as the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Western Cape High Court, The Presidency of South Africa and two National Government Ministries. In 2017, Melene co-founded Women Lead Movement and currently serves as the Executive Director of the organisation. In 2020, Women Lead Movement established another office in Madagascar to build on its Pan-African vision for the movement.

Some of her accolades include being selected by the prestigious Obama Foundation as an Obama Leader in Africa (2018). She is also a contributor for the Future Africa Forum in Governance and Human Rights in Africa since 2017. In 2019, Melene was selected as one of 11 Spokeswomen in Africa for the Global Campaign on Gender Equality by the US based ONE Global Campaign and has subsequently participated in three more global campaigns such as #YoursInPower and #PassTheMic that respectively reached more than 750 000 and 250 million people globally. In 2019, she was also selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow (MWF) by the US Department of State. Melene is also a member of the African Women Leadership Network, which is a movement supported by UN Women and the African Union as well as the Public Speaking Association of Southern Africa.

In 2020, Melene was selected by Junior Chamber International (JCI) as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World honourees in the category for World Peace/Human Rights. She was also selected by JCI South Africa as a Top Outstanding Young Person in South Africa and nominated by Avance Media as ‘100 Most Influential Women in Africa 2020’. In October 2020, Melene was also selected as “100 Most Influential Young Africans” and made the Top Ten list of Most Influential Young Africans in the category for “Leadership and Civil Society” by Africa Youth Awards. In 2021, Melene was appointed as a Play Your Part Ambassador by Official Brand South Africa responsible for promoting a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa. She was also recently named as one of the 100 Most Influential South Africans and appointed as the youngest Board member of Western Province Professional Rugby.

Through her work she has initiated and led many impactful educational and advocacy programmes and interventions online and in communities reaching thousands of people in South Africa alone. Melene has also led highly complex public engagement processes on pertinent issues affecting the country and communities. She is often called upon to participate in engagements and share her expertise on issues relating to Democracy, Governance, Active Citizenry, and Gender Equality on national, regional, and international platforms.