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Katie Carlson, Gender Specialist (MIntDev)

Originally from British Columbia, Canada, Katie Carlson is an international gender specialist who has been participating in feminist study and activism across many different contexts for over 16 years. She is uniquely passionate about gender transformative approaches that bring about positive social change and are inclusive of men and boys as key players in shifting gender norms.

As a specialist in gender and development with an emphasis on the African context and concentrated experience in Rwanda, Katie has focused her work primarily on gender analysis for program design and development including mass media outreach platforms, as well as developing and facilitating gender-focused capacity building programs for adults and adolescents across NGOS, businesses, schools and civil society. Her areas of expertise include gender transformative approaches to equality, social norms, gender-based violence, gender and youth, gender and agriculture, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, education, engaging men and boys, and gender mainstreaming.

Katie graduated from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, with a Masters degree in international development specializing in gender, focusing on civil society groups and quality of life for women living in newly democratic developing countries. She first visited Rwanda when conducting field research in the country for her graduate thesis in 2011, working with top women leaders and grassroots organizations in both Rwanda and South Africa; Katie has been a full-time resident of Kigali since early 2012.

In recent years, she has presented her work at various international conferences and has been academically published for her research regarding the importance of engaging men and boys in dialogues about gender-based violence, using Rwanda as a case study and co-authored with Dr. Shirley Randell, a world-renowned, award-winning gender and education expert and resident of Rwanda for 10 years.

In 2017, Katie was named Special Technical Advisor to the Community of Practice for Girls, a nationwide practitioners’ forum for all those working with and for adolescent girls in Rwanda, an initiative she led from the ground up during her time consulting with Girl Effect Rwanda, an international NGO.

At the grassroots level, Katie regularly hosts and participates in community dialogue sessions around Rwanda’s most pressing gender issues, involving participants from civil society and Rwandan gender activists to promote community-level social change. She has also conducted pro bono site visits for project evaluations in the East African region on behalf of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, which provides project grants to organizations that benefit women and girls. Katie also continues to actively mentor young Rwandan women in the early stages of their career development.

Speaking engagements | Events | Podcasts

Performance and Perfection Pressure in Rwandan Culture
Breaking Silences Podcast, hosted by Dominique Alonga and Aline Joyce

Episode 1 - Katie Carlson: Make Your Own Crown
Meaningful Podcast, hosted by Sofya Bourne

Women, Patriarchy and Culture
Moderator, Women’s Safe Space discussion event hosted by Paper Crown Institute and ImagineNation, December 2018
Part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Reading for Change: How to Choose What You Read - Guest panelist
Hosted by Afflatus Africa, September 2018

Setting the Record Straight: Men, Violence and Feminist Leadership - Moderator
Community Dialogue event hosted by Paper Crown Institute, July 2018

Girls' Voices, Women's Wisdom: An Evening of Intergenerational Dialogue on Gender Equality in Rwanda - Moderator
Community Dialogue event hosted by Paper Crown Institute, September 2017


Publications & Press Coverage




“Women’s role in achieving a sustainable future: Education, urbanisation, violence and human rights”
31st Triennial Conference of the International Federation of University Women, Istanbul, Turkey
Presentation title: Gender and Development: Working with Men for Gender Equality in Rwanda

 “Women in War and at War”
International Conference, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK
Presentation title: Gender Equality, the State and Civil Society: A Comparative Case Study of Rwanda and South Africa


Paper Crown Institute (Founder)
Non-profit organization that works with youth in Rwanda to transform gender norms, foster leadership and create lasting social change.

Community of Practice for Girls Rwanda
Special Technical Advisor for Rwanda’s only nationwide forum for all those working with and for adolescent girls, including efforts engaging men and boys

Coalition of Feminists for Social Change, full member and advocate

Shooting Touch International
Board member for Shooting Touch in Rwanda, an international NGO that uses basketball to engage and educate communities around health issues and foster gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls

United Nations 58th Annual Commission on the Status of Women
Representative on panel of delegates from the International Federation of University Women (INGO with ECOSOC consultative status) – New York, March 2014

Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund
Member and previous on-site project evaluation officer for VGIF grantees in East Africa