Girls Not Brides

An event for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

UNIS Vienna coverage of the event


Anne Thomas, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna


Margit Fischer, Former First Lady of Austria, President, Science Center Netzwerk and President of Österreichischer Frauenrat


Zoe Birchall, Global Advocacy Focal Point, Girls Not Brides

Kapila Gupta, President, International Inner Wheel, India

Sonja Hoenig Schough, President, ZONTA International

Viviane Tassi Bela, Gender and Human Rights Expert, Cameroon


Martina Gredler

Chair, NGO Committee on the Status of Women Vienna, UN Representative, Soroptimist International

November 28, 2017, 14:00 – 16:00

Vienna International Center Multimedia Room, G Building, 5th Floor

Speakers Bios

Mrs. Margit Fischer

Margit Fischer was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Her parents were social democrats and Jews and had to emigrate to Sweden during the Nazi regime. Mrs Fischer speaks Swedish fluently. In 1949, her family returned to Austria. She attended grammar school in Vienna and started to study arts at the University of Vienna. She has a Diploma in Textile Design and has worked as a textile designer in Switzerland, Sweden and Austria. She also has a Diploma in Weaving, has been a Restaurator in the Museum for Applied Art and studied History of Art at the University of Vienna.In 1968, she married Heinz Fischer, a social democratic politician. In 2004, her husband was elected federal president and she became first lady of Austria. The couple has two children: Philip (born 1972) and Lisa (born 1975). Mrs. Fischer is the Chairperson of Österreichischer Frauenrat (Austrian Women’s Council) since 1995 and the Chairperson of Science Center Netzwerk (Science Center Network Society) since 2005.

Zoe Birchall

Zoe Birchall is the Global Policy & Advocacy Officer at Girls Not Brides, a global partnership of more than 800 civil society organisations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. In her role, Zoe develops global-level advocacy strategies and policy recommendations for addressing child marriage and coordinates a network of Girls Not Brides’ members to align and engage in global advocacy opportunities. Prior to joining Girls Not Brides, Zoe worked in the anti-slavery sector, running human rights campaigns on the subject of modern slavery, and spent time at the Commonwealth Secretariat working in youth development.

Kapila Gupta

Dr. Gupta, President, International Inner Wheel, is a medical doctor and Life Member of IMA, FIAMS, MIMSA, and was on the managing Board of the Red Cross Society in Rohtak, India for many years. Besides her knowledge of Allopathy, she has interests in Alternative therapies, Reiki, and Astrology. She joined the Inner Wheel Club Rohtak in 1991, and has served in all posts at Club and District level and received many awards. 2007-08 elected as National Treasurer for Association of IW Clubs. In 2013-14 Dr. Gupta was elected International Inner Wheel Treasurer – the first ever from India, and was re-elected unopposed until 2016. In 2016 she was elected IIW VP, the first person from India to serve in continuity on the IIW Executive Committee in two prime posts. She is now President of International Inner Wheel. She has traveled worldwide to South East Asia, USA, Europe & UAE several times. Dr. Gupta is married and has two children.

Sonja Hoenig Slough

Sonja Hönig Schough is the President of Zonta International and Zonta International Foundation for 2016-2018. Prior to becoming President was vice president and Director in the international board. Sonja has worked for 25 years as a Nordic Human Resources Director for Beiersdorf AB, a subsidiary of an international consumer goods company. She has also worked as a senior business consultant for IFS Scandinavia, where her responsibilities were to implement information technology support within Human Resources for customers based in Scandinavia but with subsidiaries all over the globe. Sonja has served as chairman of an Industrial Health Service Company. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Gothenburg.

Viviane Tassi-Bela

Viviane Tassi-Bela is a gender and leadership expert from Cameroon. She holds an MBA and works currently as a Gender Responsible Evaluator with UN (UNDEF and UNDP)  in sensitive or post conflict settings. Her main focus is on Women, Peace and Security / Resolution 1325 and prevention of SGBV in conflicts. Her professional experiences over the past ten years cover various countries such as Cameroon, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mali, France, Germany, Lithuania and Austria. She is currently writing her PhD research thesis on Gender and Leadership at the University of Liverpool (UK).