Malika Saada Saar is a Washington-based advocate for women and girls’ rights. She the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a new effort focused on the human rights of vulnerable girls in the U.S. She is also the co-founder and former director of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights.
Saada Saar grew up in Pennsylvania, raised by her mother and grandmother. As a teenager, she worked with the iconic Washington-based activist for the homeless, Mitch Snyder, living in a shelter for a period to immerse herself in the issue. She went on earned a B.A. from Brown University, an M.A. in Education at Stanford University, and a J.D. from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, Saada Saar started Crossing the River, a written and spoken word workshop for mothers in recovery from substance abuse and violence. The group evolved into the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a policy and advocacy group for vulnerable women and families.
At the Rebecca Project, Saada Saar led the effort to shut down Craigslist sex ads that served as the leading site for the trafficking of children for sex, ended the federal practice of shackling pregnant mothers behind bars in U.S. prisons, and successfully advocated for millions in federal funding for treatment and services for at-risk families. Saada Saar left the organization in 2012 to head the Human Rights Project for Girls.
She has been selected by President Obama to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights.