WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
Senior Fellow

Thelma Aldana

Thelma Aldana is a senior fellow at WOLA specializing in women’s rights. She is a lawyer and Notary Public from the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, with a focus in Civil and Procedural Law, and a Master’s degree in Women’s Rights, Gender, and Access to Justice.

She is currently leading a research project to develop and implement a monitor on violence against women, especially in the Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras—as part of the Central America Monitor “Evaluating progress in Central America.” In this project, she provides indicators that will help these countries better respond to cases of violence against women.

Thelma Aldana was President of the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala and promoted justice with a gender perspective by creating courts and tribunals specialized in femicide and violence against women. She also served as the Attorney General and head of the Public Ministry of her country where she strengthened the Prosecutor’s Office for Women and created the Prosecutor’s Office for Femicide.

She is the author of the book Los retos de la esperanza, justicia especializada penal con enfoque de género—which analyses the structural violence experienced by women that has an impact on the denial of the exercise of their basic fundamental rights. In addition, it emphasizes the transformation of Guatemala’s criminal justice system by breaking the paradigms of traditional law and privileging women’s lives.


Awards and Acknowledgements:

  • She received an award from the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary’s Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence for her work on the eradication of gender violence.
  • She won the Jaime Brunet Prize for the Promotion of Human Rights from the Public University of Navarra for her courageous work on women’s rights, gender violence, Indigenous peoples’ rights, and political corruption.
  • She was awarded the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani International Excellence Award in the category of Anti-Corruption Lifetime/Outstanding Achievement Excellence Award—for her fight against corruption and impunity.
  • The United States Department of State presented her with the International Women of Courage Award.
  • In 2017, Time magazine distinguished her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for her fight against corruption.
  • In November 2017, the Alternative Nobel Prize in Stockholm awarded her the Right Livelihood Award for her innovative work in exposing abuse of power and prosecuting corruption, thus rebuilding peoples trust in public institutions.