Nisha Varia, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch, reflects on the story of Hissa Hilal, a Saudi woman who used her reality-television fame to speak against religious extremism.
Nisha Varia is the Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch's women's rights division. As a researcher in the women's rights division between 2003 and 2014, she conducted investigations, published reports, and carried out advocacy campaigns on migrant domestic workers’ rights across Asia and the Middle East. Her advocacy contributed to the adoption of the groundbreaking 2011 International Labour Organization's Domestic Workers Convention. Varia's other work has included developing training materials for interviewing survivors of sexual violence and research on human rights impacts of coal mining in Mozambique, women’s political participation in Afghanistan, and abuses against refugee women in Nepal. Varia is a lecturer on human rights research and advocacy at The New School in New York City. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Varia worked at the International Center for Research on Women and was a Fulbright scholar to India. Varia received a master's degree in economic and political development from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in economics and anthropology from Stanford University.