Barbara is an advocate and independent consultant who supports change-makers in their work for social justice, drawing on her own experience in policymaking, research, and advocacy and campaigning. Her areas of focus include women’s rights and gender equality, land and natural resources, and climate and economic justice. She is also the creator and host of the People vs Inequality Podcast, a space to reflect and learn with changemakers on how to tackle inequality.
Barbara works with civil society organisations, foundations, social movements and other change-makers focusing on injustice and inequality. She supported the JaiJagat2020 campaign for peace and justice, Robert Bosch Stiftung in their strategy development on inequality, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their analysis on feminist foreign policy, amongst other.
From 2011 to 2018, Barbara worked at ActionAid in the Netherlands, first as policy advisor on land rights and later as head of policy and campaigns, where she played a key role in putting women's land rights and the negative impacts of Dutch and EU biofuel and investment policies on the agenda. She spoke regularly in parliament and to the media and was the first-ever NGO representative on the Dutch government delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women, in 2018. At ActionAid Nederland, she managed a team of campaigners promoting women’s rights and challenging unfair tax policies and human rights violations in agribusiness and extractives. As part of the management team, Barbara led organisational strategy processes and efforts promoting feminist leadership. She also served on the jury for the Fair Politician of the Year Award and was nominated for V!VA400, the annual top 400 list of influential Dutch women.
Barbara is a trained youth human rights educator and facilitator and a member of the Reimagining INGO lab working for a more balanced and thriving international civil society. She has published articles and reports on themes including women's rights, the gendered impacts of policies and investments, and lessons on people power and how change happens. Her People vs Inequality podcast has brought together diverse perspectives on women’s economic justice in times of covid and just solutions to the climate crisis.
She obtained a BSc in Human Geography and an MSc in International Development studies from the University of Amsterdam, both cum laude. Her Master’s thesis on trade negotiations in developing countries was nominated for the 2009 CEDLA Latin America thesis award, and was published in the Review of International Political Economy.
It gives me hope to see so many people working for a more equal and just world. It gives me hope that young people are increasingly prepared to stand up for social and environmental justice. It is hopeful to see growing awareness of the need to shift power, between elites, companies and citizens, between the global North and the global South, between men and women. While we still have a long way to go and there are many forces working against us, some of the achievements of the recent years and the fact that we are talking about these issues are major steps forward.
Barbara van Paassen