Our Team

Social development specialists with decades of
International development sector experience

Our Team

Maria V

Maria Vlahakis

Senior Technical Specialist

Maria joined SDDirect in May 2020 as a senior technical specialist on gender-based violence. Maria is a social inclusion and gender equality professional, specialising in violence against women and girls and women’s participation and leadership. She has worked in policy and programming roles in the development sector and with diverse women’s rights organisations and activists in Africa and Asia.

Maria has spent much of her career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights, including the rights of women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting discriminations and oppressions. She has developed and implemented several advocacy campaigns, including on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and on disability inclusion, working directly with policy-makers and decision-makers and indirectly with the media and other influencers. She has written and commissioned a number of external policy and advocacy briefings and submissions.

Throughout her career, Maria has increasingly combined policy and programming roles and is committed to the integration of legal and policy considerations in programmes and to evidence-based advocacy. She has worked on mainstreaming social inclusion and gender equality into health, education and livelihoods programmes and on standalone programmes.

Before joining SDDirect Maria was Policy & Advocacy Manager on Violence Against Women and Girls at Womankind Worldwide, and Social Inclusion and Gender Adviser at Voluntary Service Overseas. She has previously worked in policy roles in the UK voluntary sector and UK Government.

Maria is passionate about dismantling systems of oppression which discriminate against women, girls, transgender, gender non-conforming people, and all those who are socially excluded.