Human Rights Advocate and WriterCompany: Activist and Writer
Role: Session Presenter
Melissa Kiguwa’s background spans three continents — Africa, Europe, and North America. She has worked as an international advocate for human rights and LGBTQIA+ equality, a radio and television host, and a producer for both commercial and broadcast radio. Melissa is a 2020 PEN America Emerging Voices fellow and is currently at work on an adventure memoir. She graduated from the London School of Economics in 2015, earning an MSc in media, communications and development.
As senior project officer for the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Kampala, Uganda, Melissa spent three years managing an extensive grant process that awarded small cash grants and technical equipment to 22 human rights organizations operating in Uganda. She developed and coordinated digital security and human rights documentation trainings for the 22 awarded organizations.
Melissa also collected more than 200 cases of human rights violations committed upon the LGBTI community from 1984 to 2014 in Uganda and wrote and drafted the first Sexual Minorities Human Rights Violations Report, the first of its kind for sexual minorities in Uganda. During this same timeframe, she hosted a groundbreaking adult nighttime radio program on Sanyu FM that sparked honest and open conversations around the social realities of Ugandans in relation to sex, love, and intimacy. The show ranked as the network’s third most popular program.
Melissa is building a reputation as one of the best writing talents to emerge from the African continent. Her story, “The Wound of Shrinking,” was longlisted for the Writivism Short Story Prize, and her first collection of poems, “Reveries of Longing,” was selected as one of This is Africa’s 100 Best Books in fiction, poetry, memoir, and nonfiction. She has also been recognized as an influential African feminist artist to know and celebrate. Melissa is the founder and host of the Grit & Grace podcast, in which she spans the globe interviewing brilliant women with an audacious vision for the future.