Gender Equality Network Leaders

The Equal Press project is one of many across Canada funded by the Department for Women and Gender Equality (formerly Status of Women Canada). Each initiative has elected women leaders to guide their local project, and also take part in the national Gender Equality Network Canada (GENC). The objective of this network is to advocate for policy changes, build inclusive intersectional leadership, and create a national strategy for gender equality. The GENC leaders for Equal Press are:

Joan Andersen is currently a contractor working with Non-Profits to build their capacities. Throughout her working life, she has provided opportunities for women, visible minorities and newcomers to Canada to tell their stories and improve their lives. Joan worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for 30 years in Vancouver, Toronto and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, producer and editor, she pushed for stories that increased the range of perspectives and the diversity of voices and faces that were broadcast.  As a leader and a Director, she collaborated with others to diversify the workforce so it better reflected Canada today. More recently, Joan worked as a Director at MOSAIC, an Immigrant Serving Organization in Vancouver that empowers newcomers to fully participate in and contribute to Canadian society. At MOSAIC, she oversaw programs and research aimed at helping immigrants learn English and find jobs. She holds a Masters in industrial Relations from the University of Toronto and a Masters in Library Science from the University of British Columbia. Joan is a past chair of the Vancouver Public Library Board, a past member of Vancouver’s Active Transportation Policy Council and a Committee Chair on the Board of PLEA, a non-profit that works with at risk youth.


Ayesha S. Chaudhry is the Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law and Social Justice and Associate Professor of Islamic studies and Gender studies at the University of British Columbia, where she has served on the Board of Governors. In 2018, she was named a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellow and a Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. She was a 2016-17 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study at UBC and she was the 2015-16 Rita E. Hauser fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law, and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (Oxford University Press, 2014). Dr. Chaudhry’s research focuses on Islamic legal and theological reform, with an eye towards promoting human rights by focusing on women’s rights. Dr. Chaudhry is deeply committed to bridging the academic and civil society divide. In service of this commitment, she is actively engaged in civic discourse around religion. She has consulted on high-level national and international cases concerning human rights, religious freedom, and pluralism. She works with NGOs and international development organizations to improve women’s rights and promote pluralism. She is currently working on two major projects, one entitled “Feminist Shari’a” and a trilogy entitled “The Colour of God”.


Gisela Ruebsaat (BA LL.B.) is an independent legal analyst, writer and scholar. She has played a lead role in key justice reform initiatives throughout her career. As an analyst for EVA BC, Gisela worked with police, corrections and community advocates to design and implement provincial anti-violence programs to improve access to justice for marginalized women. Many of these BC-born initiatives are now being adopted by other Canadian provinces and territories. Gisela also worked at the Ontario Ministries of Attorney General, and Citizenship and Culture, developing race relations, human rights and multiculturalism policies. Gisela received the Silver Medal Award from the Ontario government and the BC Building a Safer Future Award for her anti-violence work. In 2006 Gisela co-authored the groundbreaking unfounded study which documented police misclassification of sexual assault cases, ultimately leading to a national review of police practices. Gisela is an accomplished poet and scholar whose work has appeared in both literary and academic journals. Her writing investigates the role of legal and literary language: how it can help us unearth memories and histories associated with social injustice. Her debut poetry collection, Heart Mechanic, was published in 2016. Gisela is Associate Editor of the Canadian Review of Art Education.