Amanda Klasing, Human Rights Watch Acting Co-Director, Women’s Rights Division

By Penny Carothers

Growing up in South Texas close to a fluid border, Amanda Klasing saw deep inequality firsthand and wanted to do something about it from an early age. From a deeply religious family whose faith was informed by social justice, she always knew she’d have a career and a life that included service. What she didn’t realize then was that her life’s work would require her to face an inherent tension in her upbringing.

This tension was a fact of life in her childhood, streaming from the radio and from the front seat of the family car. On rides to and from baseball practice—on a team where she was the only girl—she heard messages like, “feminazis are going to ruin the world,” from the family’s favorite radio program, The Rush Limbaugh Show. “I grew up in a very conservative household where the worst thing that you could be was a feminist,” she explained.  “At the same time, my dad also encouraged me to pursue anything that I wanted to, whether it was sports or leadership or a scholarship. Whatever it was, there was no distinction in the way that he saw my abilities and my opportunities and the way he saw my brother’s.”

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