Birmingham-based domestic abuse charity Women Acting in Today’s Society (WAITS) has welcomed international lawyer Madeleine Rees OBE as their new patron.

Madeleine is current Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the worldwide organisation that aims to bring women together to oppose war, violence and global militarisation.

Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to combat discrimination and promote human rights, causes that are close to the heart of WAITS’ CEO, Marcia Lewison.

Marcia said: “We’re delighted that Madeleine has kindly agreed to be our patron as her dedication to improving the rights of women sits perfectly with our core values. Her vast experience will be instrumental to WAITS as we continue to support women suffering domestic abuse to feel empowered and gain independence.”

Madeleine began her career as a lawyer in the UK, specialising in discrimination law and developing strategies to establish rights under domestic law on behalf of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission. Internationally, Madeleine brought cases to the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court in Luxembourg.

In 1998 she was appointed as Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. As their gender expert in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she worked on counter-trafficking and the rule of law, gender and post-conflict, transitional justice, and social and economic rights protection. From 2006 to 2010, Madeleine served as the Head of the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Madeleine, who was awarded an OBE for services to human rights in 2014, said: “I am delighted to be introducing myself as a new patron of WAITS and I am excited to support in whatever way I can.  My earliest learning experiences working on women’s rights was actually in Birmingham, with the Rape Crisis Centre. This experience stood me in good stead in understanding discrimination in law and justice and how it was, and still is, embedded in our institutions.  It feels really good and timely to be back with the Brummies!”

Madeleine became a lawyer after women in Nicaragua convinced her of the need to use law to achieve social justice and fight patriarchy to end inequalities through international women’s solidarity.

She continued: “WILPF sees the importance of the mantra to ‘think globally, act locally’ but also reverse it so that the local experiences are shared and reacted to globally. A way of fulfilling what those amazing women from Nicaragua said all those years ago.”

WAITS was established in Birmingham over 20 years ago to help women achieve their goals, feel empowered and gain independence. They offer several services including a refuge for women fleeing from, or facing homelessness due to, domestic violence and a community integration project for women who have offended in the past or are at risk of offending in the future.

For more information about WAITS visit