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focus women is a non-profit foundation based in Switzerland and created by a private initiative. The beneficiaries of the Foundation’s support are women and girls who are unable to realize their rights and potentials due to discrimination, oppression and/or poverty. The participation of these women in society should be empowered so that they can exercise their social, economic, and political rights autonomously and unrestrictedly. The organizations and projects supported by the Foundation shall aim directly and sustainably at improving the situation of the women involved in the project and their community. 

An annual funding budget is available to the Foundation. The funds are drawn from the Foundation's capital.


Christine Schärer, President

Chrisrine Schärer worked as a journalist and editor for Swiss Television during more than 25 years, for instance for the women's magazine "Lipstick" and the daily news. Towards the end of the 1980s, she was involved in the Zurich movement "Frauen macht Politik!" FraP ("Women make politics!"). From 1991 to 1993, she was responsible for women's concerns at the TV Studio Zurich. Her involvement made her realize how many structural hurdles women have to face every day, and she is very much aware of the huge potential of committed, networked women. When she retired, she set herself the goal of strengthening women across geographical and cultural borders with the help of the focus women foundation. 


Severina Eggenspiller

Severina Eggenspiller is an expert in development cooperation, project management and cultural management. After working for the ICRC, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and the feminist NGO cfd, she worked for various Swiss foundations. She set up an office in Morocco for the Drosos Foundation and was in charge of the Morocco and Tunisia programme for ten years. She has broad thematic knowledge and work experience in East Africa, India, Central Asia and North Africa. She holds a Master's degree in History and International Law from the University of Zurich, as well as diplomas in Development Cooperation from NADEL at ETH Zurich and in Monitoring & Evaluation from INTRAC in Oxford.


Eve Mezger-Haefeli

Eve Mezger-Haefeli was among the first speakers working for Swiss Television. After living in Germany for ten years, she returned to Switzerland and to Swiss Television in 1973. She presented various afternoon programs and also did editorial work for the "Seniorama" program.

Since her retirement, she has committed herself to volunteer work. In the early days, she was a member of the Senior Citizens' Council of the City and Canton of Zurich and became a member of the Special Mobility Commission of the Zurich Transport Company, where she defended the concerns of senior citizens. She is still a Board Member of the Zurich Foundation for the Transport of the Disabled and has also been contributing to the project "Generations in the classroom" since its creation. Between 2002 and 2005, she supported Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold's initiative "1000 Women for the Peace Nobel Prize 2005" that nominated 1000 female peacemakers around the world for the Peace Nobel Prize. 


Gabriela Neuhaus

Gabriela Neuhaus is a journalist and a filmmaker. She has been a co-owner of Offroad Reports GmbH, a media production company, since 1997. She holds a licentiate degree in history and constitutional law from Bern University and has been working as a journalist for print media, radio and television since 1982. Her specialties include international cooperation, more specifically researching and realizing reports and features from emerging and developing countries. In addition, she holds various project and advisory mandates for several NGOs and the DEZA.


Evelyne Sturm

Evelyne Sturm holds a degree as a Doctor of Law with the rating "summa cum laude" from Bern University. She has extensive experience in the human rights field. She has been leading the Swiss Competence Centre for Human Rights (Schweizerisches Kompetenzzentrum für Menschenrechte SKMR) as a Managing Director for the past seven years. Before, she worked for the Justice Administration and for civic organizations. In terms of content, she has focused on the rights of refugees, migrants, and women, as well as on legal protection issues.




Antonia Banz

Antonia Banz is a set designer and a culture manager. She has been running her own design business raumprodukt gmbh for more than 20 years. The company focuses on designing and implementing socially relevant theme exhibitions. Antonia contributes to the focus women foundation with her experience in business administration and project management. As a General Manager, she is responsible for the Foundation's operational activities and acts as its contact person.



Consultant for

Mirjam Kalt

Mirjam Kalt is an occupational and organizational psychologist and has been working in education and counseling for many years. From 2003 to 2012, she was a lecturer and consultant with the Institute for Applied Psychology at Zurich University of Applied Sciences and now works as a freelance consultant for Mehrsicht AG. She spent the last seven years living in Colombia where she managed Comundo’s national program, a Swiss organization for personnel development cooperation. At focus women, she coordinates projects in Latin America.



Consultant for
East Africa

Maria Namuma Heise

Maria Namuma Heise is a part-time lawyer at Pair.fact Legal AG, a law firm based in Zurich. She holds a Master of Laws in Rule of Law for Development from Loyola University, Chicago, and has been a Licensed Advocate of the High Court of Kenya for 10 years. Her focus areas include: sustainable development (UNSDGs), food law and food rights, contracts for agribusiness value chain financing, women’s rights, and intellectual property law. Maria Namuma Heise has previously worked at the UN-Habitat’s Legal Division in Nairobi, Kenya, and in legal-technical consultancies for projects aimed at implementing gender-sensitive agribusiness value chains at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. Most recently, she has worked collaboratively in sustainable peace projects in Ethiopia and the Global South with Peace Women Across the Globe and the African Forum for Rule of Law Development.

At focus women foundation, she works as a consultant for East Africa and acts as a bridge builder with partner organizations in the target region.



FORMER Members

Ursula Keller Alazzawi

Ursula Keller has been a Senior Policy Advisor for Governance and the promotion of democracy at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation DEZA of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs since September 2019. Before that, she worked as a Senior Gender Policy Advisor at the DEZA for six years. In this role, she was responsible for the DEZA's gender policy and the implementation in its projects. During this time, she also managed the OECD DAC's gender network as a Co-Chairwoman. Ursula Keller is an expert in gender and women's rights, as well as for governance issues in development and conflict contexts, and has extensive work experience in the Middle East and in Africa. She holds a Master's degree in social anthropology, history and political science from Zurich University.



Contact: Antonia Banz

T +41 44 523 73 07
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