The Echidna Global Scholars Program at the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings seeks to catalyze and amplify the impact of local leaders working to advance gender-transformative education across the Global South.

During a six-month fellowship, Echidna Global Scholars conduct individual research focused on improving learning opportunities and life outcomes for girls, young women, and gender non-conforming people, develop their leadership and evidence-based policy skills, build substantive knowledge on gender and global education issues, and expand their pathways for impact. Upon completion of the fellowship, scholars transition to the Echidna Alumni Network, a growing community of practice aimed at promoting their significant, sustained, and collective influence on gender-transformative education globally and locally.

Since its inception in 2012, the Echidna Global Scholars Program has hosted ten cohorts of fellows and currently supports an alumni network of 33 scholars from 20 different countries.

This program is made possible by the generous contribution of Echidna Giving.

Please email [email protected] with any questions about the program.

2023 Echidna Global Scholars 

Anusha Bharadwaj | India

Executive Director, Voice 4 Girls; Ashoka Fellow; Founder, SoCh for Social Change

Anusha Bharadwaj believes in the power of adolescent and youth leadership to transform communities and nations. With this conviction, she leads a group of passionate individuals at VOICE 4 Girls (VOICE), an NGO that strives to eliminate gender inequality by educating and empowering marginalized adolescent girls and boys. In the last decade, VOICE has impacted more than a quarter of a million adolescents adolescents and around 6,000 young men and women.

Building on her vision of youth leadership, she founded SoCh for Social Change, an organization aimed at honing young women’s leadership skills and becoming agents of change in their communities. Anusha also facilitates leadership programs for social entrepreneurs and leaders on global platforms. She is an Ashoka Fellow, a position recognized as the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.

Anusha has curated unique social impact leadership programs to help women embark on their social impact journeys. VOICE’s work has been recognized as innovative and transformational, providing benefits for adolescent girls but ripple effects that improve the lives of millions of other people. Anusha has spoken at TEDxWomen Hyderabad and TEDxVCE, amplifying the need for feminist education.

Her work has been recognized with various awards, namely Great Indian Women of the Year 2021 by Golden Signatures #GIWA 2021, WEF 2019 Award of “Exceptional Women of Excellence,” Balika Bandhu Award in 2017, and Leader in Volunteer Engagement in 2017. Anusha was also recently recognized in the top 17 SDG Women Changemakers of India by Sayfty and Twitter India.

She is an alumnus of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (2013-14) at the East-West Center; a member of the first cohort of Harvard-Dasra Social Impact Leadership Program (2014-15); a Cordes Fellow (2017); and a Kalinga Fellow (2020). She is an advisor to Fairshare International, a feminist organization promoting women’s leadership, and an ethics committee member of Fernandez Foundation. At Brookings, Anusha’s research will focus on how a feminist approach to adolescent leadership can cause ripple effects that can transform families and communities.

Follow Anusha on Twitter via @anushabharadwaj.


Thinley Choden | Bhutan

CEO, Centre for Sustainability Studies; Founding Curator, Global Shapers Thimphu Hub; Bhutan Country Advisor, Give2Asia

Thinley Choden is a social entrepreneur and consultant. As the CEO of Centre for Sustainability Studies, a consultancy knowledge firm that she co-founded, Thinley leads a portfolio of initiatives at the nexus of women, climate, youth, and entrepreneurship. She has cross-sectional strategic coalition and leadership building experiences across private and public sectors at local and international levels.

She is also the founding curator of Global Shapers Thimphu Hub. Thinley serves as Bhutan country advisor for Give2Asia, a philanthropic giving platform based in the U.S. In 2008, she founded a successful nonprofit, READ Bhutan, and currently sits on the Board.

Thinley is part of numerous globally competitive professional programs and fellowships such as a Draper Hills Fellow at Stanford University, the Acumen Fellowship Program, Obama Delegate Entrepreneur at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford, Vital Voices GROW and GAP Fellowship at Vital Voices Global Partnership, Leadership and Degree Fellow at the East-West Center, Asian Feminist Fellow at Ewha University, Seoul, SOCAP Fellow, and Cordes Fellow.

She holds an executive certificate in Strategic Decisionmaking from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, an MPA from University of Hawaii, Manoa, and a BA in Economics from Beloit College, Wisconsin.

Thinley enjoys staying healthy and exploring. She tries to get in as much running, yoga, and outdoor adventures/hiking/trekking. At Brookings, Thinley’s research will focus on the status of climate literacy among Bhutanese girls and women to lead toward empowered agency and skills for climate change adaptation.

Follow Thinley on Twitter via @manoazam.


Nariman Moustafa | Egypt

Senior Researcher, Edtech Hub; Senior Analyst, Open Development and Education

Nariman Moustafa is a Cairo-based educator, researcher, and community organizer in the broader field of decolonial and social justice-based education. Formally, she holds a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. Additionally, her education was informed and influenced by a long lineage of non-institutional actors, including the Nile, the desert, her grandmother, and the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution. Nariman’s projects revolve around reclaiming diverse knowledge cosmologies using community art and assembling as a form of social participation for justice.

She has more than 10 years of experience in the fields of international education, social innovation, higher-education teaching, community art, and participatory policy processes, as well as in agile and adaptive leadership practices. Nariman has worked on projects that range from consulting for governments on how to improve education with limited resources to designing and facilitating socially transformative processes with women, youth, and refugees.

Globally, she works as a senior researcher at Edtech Hub, a global consortium of evidence-based research for education policymakers, and as a senior analyst at Open Development and Education. In Egypt, she serves as a curriculum developer and advisor at Dawar for Arts on a project focused on regional sexual and reproductive health and rights, which her Brookings fellowship will focus on.

Previously, she founded several initiatives for re-envisioning justice-centered education, including Mesahat: Liberating Learning Spaces for children (translated to “free spaces” from Arabic) and Tagawor for adults (“collaborative neighborhood learning”). With a belief in local action and transnational solidarity, she is a steering member of the Ecoversities Alliance, a 500+ global alliance of institutions reimagining higher education from a decolonial perspective. She also serves as a teaching assistant for community organizing and adaptive leadership courses at the Harvard Kennedy School, in addition to being a post-growth fellow at the Post Growth Institute.

Follow Nariman on Twitter via @NarimanMoustafa and connect with her on LinkedIn at Nariman Moustafa.


Susan Opok | Uganda

Executive Director, FAWE Uganda

Susan Opok is a motivated and strategic female development executive who exudes passion, with the aim to create impact. She is currently the executive director of Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Uganda Chapter and has led three other nongovernmental organizations: country director of Nurture Africa, country director of Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) Uganda, and program manager at Windle Trust Uganda in the Acholi Bursary Scheme focused on providing socio-economic services, education, maternal and HIV/AIDS care, protection, health and institutional systems strengthening, research, and advocacy to enhance gender equality in post-conflict situations.

Susan has worked closely with the government of Uganda and development partners at national, subnational, and international levels, including engaging with technical working groups and networks. In her community efforts, Susan sits on various boards, mentors, and advocates for girls’ education—a cause she believes in passionately and that has heightened her resilience and self-awareness.

She holds an MSc in Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Agriculture from the Agricultural University of Norway, an MSc in Environment Science from Makerere University, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Philosophy from Makerere University. At Brookings, Susan’s research will focus on the efficacy of the school re-entry policy for refugees and host communities in Adjumani District in Uganda

Follow Susan on Twitter via @susan_opok.