• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6094

Hayter, Joanna

  • Occupation Chief Executive Officer, Human Rights Advocate, Policy adviser, Social justice advocate, Women's advocate, Women's rights activist


Joanna was the CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency from 2010 until 2017.

Joanna’s experience in international development, foreign affairs, human rights, peace building and social justice ranges across four continents and 28 countries.

Her former roles include: Country Director for the Burnet Institute in Myanmar; Country Director for Save the Children UK in Vietnam; and Regional Director for Africa with the Overseas Service Bureau. Joanna’s international advisory roles include UNDP, UNOCHA, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNHCR, governments across Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific and multiple international and local NGOs.

Joanna has provided policy, evaluation and management services in relation to disease control, humanitarian assistance, national strategic planning, organisation and capacity development and institutional strengthening within government systems and across civil society organisations and networks.

She currently sits on the Board of the Australian Council for International Development and the Victorian Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality.

In 2013, Joanna was named as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, and in 2016, she was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women for outstanding service to international development, gender equality and peace building.

Joanna was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2018 Australia Day Honours for ‘distinguished service to women in the areas of gender equality and individual rights through leadership and policy, development roles, and to the promotion of global health, peace and security’.


As CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency, Joanna was responsible for strategic and organisational leadership to accelerate systemic change, women’s economic empowerment, safety and security, and women’s civil and political participation. IWDA is Australia’s leading international development organisation entirely focused on diverse women’s rights and gender equality. She led the research, policy and advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality in international settings with a focus on program partnerships with 30 other women’s rights organisations in the Asia Pacific region. As the international spokesperson for the organisation, Joanna provided expert, evidence-based advice relating to women’s rights and gender equality to national and international governments and other international stakeholders including United Nations Commissions, Councils or agencies, the World Bank, ASEAN, APEC, international human rights networks and the global women’s movement and supporting coalitions and alliances.

Joanna has been engaged with Myanmar since her first arrival on Tsunami Day 2004 and experienced the Saffron Revolution, Cyclone Nargis, the constitutional referendum, and the 2012 & 2016 elections. Her multiple relationships include:
· Country Director for Burnet Institute responsible civil society program partnerships across 10 states and divisions. Program focus was health, education, women, youth and human rights.
· Organisational Development Adviser with Myanmar Anti-Narcotics Association over 7 years with this nationwide NGO of 12,000 members with a focus on harm reduction and demand reduction.
· Evaluation Team Leader, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the review of the Humanitarian Multi-Stakeholder Fund for Myanmar.
· Senior Evaluator, United Nations Development Program to assess the Inter Agency Standing Committee (membership of over 100 organisations) contribution to humanitarian and recovery response to Cyclone Nargis.
· Project Director, of the six nation Asia Illicit Drugs Initiative targeting drug treatment programs.
· CEO, IWDA with oversight of programs partnerships with Chin, Karen, Shan and Palaung women’s organisations and other national organisations working to advance gender equality.
· Founding member of Three Diseases Fund.
· INGO representative on Government Committee to prepare Myanmar’s first National HIV Plan.

Joanna’s four year residency in Vietnam from 1997-2000 included Country Directorship for Save the Children UK in managing child rights programs for ethnic minority primary education; poverty alleviation; microfinance for women; disability; early childhood care and development; people trafficking and sexual exploitation prevention; and HIV/AIDS. She also held roles as a Communications Strategist to UNAIDS and the Hanoi based representative for University of WA’s Community Health, Research & Training Unit.

For close to a decade from 1987, Joanna worked across thirteen countries in Africa. As the Regional Director for Overseas Service Bureau she involved multiple development settings including refugee and exile camps, agricultural settings, industrial zones, small and medium enterprises, remote villages, institutions for health and education and public sector departments. She negotiated five Memoranda of Understanding between national governments and OSB. Joanna was involved directly in historical transitions in anti-apartheid activities with the ANC. Her strategic management included multiple partnerships with civil society, government and UN bodies in addressing human security and human development in South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania.

Joanna has a long history in international peace and security. She is a founding member of the Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security. Her current work is located in fragile states, conflict and post conflict countries across Asia and the Pacific. This leadership and/or protection programs for women and girls in conflict and post conflict zones, exile settlements and refugees camps; addressing gender based violence and trafficking of women and girls; resourcing women’s increased participation in peace processes and leadership to improve issues pertaining to the socio-economic consequences of violence and conflict; and peace building programs with ethnic women organisations and the broader Myanmar women’s movement in convergence with the reconciliation process. Joanna’s engagement in international disarmament dialogues began in the mid 80’s as the leader for People for Nuclear Disarmament in Western Australia with attention to defence policy and treaties, militarization of the seas, peace treaties, arms limitation talks, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear technology, IAEA safeguard systems, nuclear testing, peace education and conflict resolution. She was awarded the ‘Donald Groom Fellowship’ in 1986 to contribute to non-violent social change as a resident in Japan. Subsequently, as the International Coordinator for the Pacific Campaign to Disarm the Seas, Joanna worked in close relations with the International Peace Bureau, the Northern Atlantic Network and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Campaign.

Joanna’s national and international policy and advisory work includes advisory committee work for the Individual Deprivation Measure (IWDA/ANU/DFAT) and directing Policy and International Program Development for the Australian International Health Institute from 2002-4 and as a Senior Health Consultant to ACIL Pty Ltd from 2000-2.



  • 2013 - 1970

    Australian Council for International Development

    Board Director
  • 2000 - 2000

    Ministry of Social Welfare

    Medal for Service to Vietnam
  • 2016 - 2016

    Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

  • 2013 - 2013

    Australian 100 Women of Influence

    Award Winner
  • 2017 - 1970

    Individual Deprivation Measure, Advisory Committee

  • 2017 - 1970

    Ministerial Council for Women’s Equality, Victoria

  • 2014 - 2014

    APEC Women and the Economy Forum, Beijing

    Official Australian Private Sector Delegate.
  • 2014 - 2015

    Diaspora Action Australia

    Board Director
  • 2013 - 2014

    UN Security Council DFAT/Civil Society Consultations

  • 2013 - 2013

    Australian High Level Women’s Delegation to Burma

  • 2014 - 1970

    Refugee Council of Victoria

  • 1987 - 1970

    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

  • 2013 - 1970

    Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security

    Founding Member
  • 2012 - 1970

    International Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium

    Founding Member

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  • Chief Executive Officer
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