Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Irene Khan became the first woman, the first Asian, the first Bangladeshi and the first Muslim to hold the position of Amnesty International Secretary General. Reforming Amnesty's response to crisis situations in her first year, Irene led the organisation through developments in the wake of the attacks of September 11 2001, resisting the backlash against human rights, expanding Amnesty’s work to include economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, and launching a global campaign to stop violence against women. A transformational leader, Irene also sits on the board of several human rights and development organisations, including Save the Children International, BRAC and the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
Praise for Irene Khan
"Irene Khan reformed Amnesty International's response to crisis situations, and led a campaign to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Acutely aware of the human rights problems faced by women and girls worldwide, Irene also launched a global campaign to stop violence against women. Recognising the significance of economic, social and cultural rights as well as political and civil rights, she encouraged Amnesty International to develop a holistic approach to human rights culminating, in May 2009, in the launch of a new campaign – “Demand Dignity” – focussing on human rights abuses related to poverty."