Through feminist research and advocacy, we're crafting a more just world.

Our work

Ladysmith is a feminist venture for gender equality.

Policymakers, program designers, and social movements use data to craft the futures they want to see. A smith is a craftsperson. Throughout history, crafting has typically been associated with men’s work (think blacksmith, tinsmith, locksmith, silversmith). At Ladysmith we believe that women and their life experiences are critical to crafting a more just and caring world.

Guided by the principle “no research about us, without us,” we help development organizations produce, analyze and take action on gender data. Our research and advocacy work focuses on three themes: women’s rights and security, gender equitable development, and women in leadership.

Our approach is technical as much as it is structural. We collect data to identify and 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.

DSC04393Dr. Tara Cookson is director at Ladysmith.  Tara earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Her forthcoming book, Unjust Conditions: Women’s Work and the Hidden Cost of Cash Transfer Programs analyzes women’s experiences of participating in the world’s most widely implemented anti-poverty programs. In 2014 she received the Bill Gates Sr Prize for founding a leadership program called Learning for Purpose. Tara is a 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 principal at Ladysmith. Her work focuses on gender equality and gender justice, with expertise 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 is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of California’s Center for Population Research and also proudly serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Justice for My Sister Collective.

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