Ladysmith is a gender equality venture. Through research, advocacy and training, we're crafting a 21st century care economy.



Ladysmith is a social venture for crafting a 21st century care economy — because a just society is a caring one. We conduct research, analysis and advocacy around three core areas: women’s rights and security, gender equitable development, and women in leadership.

Part of our approach at Ladysmith is a ‘structural’ perspective. This means that we identify and seek to change the beliefs, practices and policies that contribute to gender injustice and inequality. We challenge explicit forms of harm, and also more mundane, everyday experiences of discrimination and exclusion— all of which undercut women’s genuine security and impede them from fully exercising their rights and citizenship.

We’re also inspired by big ideas from the field of care economics, which recognizes that care work is central to a stable, sane and rewarding life. Research shows that care work isn’t just a ‘private’ concern – responsibility for care shapes how people participate in the workplace and public life. Working for a 21st century care economy means crafting organizations as well as economic and civic institutions to reflect these values.


DSC04393Ladysmith was founded by Dr. Tara Cookson, and draws on her network to form project-specific teams that include a diverse range of experts from around the world. Tara earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She has published original research on conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, which The Economist calls “the world’s favourite new anti-poverty device.” She later received the Bill Gates Sr Prize for founding a leadership program called Learning for Purpose. Tara is a current Seattle Women’s Commissioner and has also served as a proud board member of the Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre in British Columbia — not far from her grandmother’s birthplace, Ladysmith.


Dr. Lorena Fuentes is a researcher and consultant whose work focuses on gender equality and gender justice, with a specialized concentration in issues related to violence and insecurity. She earned her PhD at the University of London, Birkbeck, as a School of Social Sciences Studentship Fellow and as Chair of the UK Gender & Social Policy in Latin America Seminar. Her recent research highlights how gender norms inform and constrain anti-violence legislation and policy. Lorena has extensive experience in the non-profit sector as a frontline advocate for young women victimized by violence; cumulatively, this experience has motivated her to undertake research that centers the needs of those often left at the peripheries of policy formulation.

If you’re interested in partnering with Ladysmith, send an email to and we’ll find a time to talk! We’re happy to share our portfolio of current and former projects upon request.