Meet JOCELYN KELLY—passionate young human rights activist and researcher. Jocelyn has focused her research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she seeks to understand the impact of sexual violence on women and on society.
At a very young age, Jocelyn was introduced to disaster response and crisis response during hurricane Katrina in the United States. Jocelyn worked as an Emergency Management Specialist in Hurricane Katrina-affected areas and was a liaison for the public assistance chief managing the crisis in the state of Louisiana. Through this experience, Jocelyn found there were no adequate guidelines on how respond to crisis and disasters, especially how to treat women in vulnerable populations in crisis. Eventually she decided to study public health, and graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University.
Jocelyn believes that “when the stakes are so very high it couldn’t be more important to do thoughtful research and investigations to ask people what they need during this crisis”.
For over seven years, Jocelyn has conducted health-related research using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Her work has focused on understanding the health needs of vulnerable populations in Eastern and Central Africa. It has also included working with Uganda Human Rights commission to launch the first office in Africa promoting the Right to Health.
Jocelyn is now the Director of the Women in War Program for Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). In this position, she designs and implements research projects based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to examine the experiences and attitudes of community groups regarding sexual violence.
Jocelyn has been working for the past three and half years in the DRC with local partners, investigating how sexual violence not only affects women as survivors, but also how this violence impacts their families, communities and society as a whole. She uses a holistic approach in her work. Women are not just victims, but are also “leaders, economic drivers and forces of change”. It is through this holistic approach she has learned the destabilizing effects of sexual violence during conflict that reach far beyond women’s bodies and their minds.
Jocelyn believes that good quality data—along with the telling of women’s stories—can help greatly in creating sustainable change for women in vulnerable situations. Jocelyn had one of her greatest learning experiences during her research at a hospital in DRC: “I realized the power of bringing the numbers and the narrative together from the women who experience violence”.
Jocelyn’s mission is to highlight the fact that sexual violence in conflict is not exclusively a “woman’s issue” – but also a cultural, societal, security and political issue that absolutely needs to be addressed at the international level. With her passion and insight, we know that Jocelyn will succeed.