Adèle Kirsten "has been a nonviolent, social justice activist for more than twenty five years in South Africa. She became active in the anti-apartheid movement in the late 70’s as a result of her opposition to the injustices of the apartheid system, the growing militarisation of the society at that time as well as her support for those who refused to serve in the apartheid army. She assisted in establishing, through the National Peace Accord structures, a rapid response network of unarmed young people who were trained in conflict resolution and emergency services to operate in areas particularly affected by high levels of violence in the period leading up to the first general election of 1994.
"In late 1994 she was one of the founding members of the organisation, Gun Free South Africa (GFSA) and became its Director in March 1995. She was responsible for helping build this organisation into a national NGO, with branches across the country in both rural and urban areas. In November 2000, the South African Parliament passed the Firearms Control Act which aims to prevent the misuse and easy access to firearms by civilians and in so doing to reduce the number of firearm in circulation in the country.
"Adèle left GFSA in June 2002 for a sabbatical period to reflect on and record the experiences of GFSA and its role in social mobilisation, public policy change and media advocacy during South Africa’s political transition. She has just published her book “A Nation Without Guns? The story of Gun Free South Africa.” During this period she was also a research associate at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). She is well regarded in the small arms control community as a researcher and analyst and has been involved in a number of global initiatives including the WHO Report on Violence in Africa. In addition she is an Advisory Board member for the DFID (UK government development arm) Armed Violence and Poverty Initiative as well as a member of the critical review panel for the OECD-DAC on developing guidelines for Armed Violence Reduction Programming.
"Adèle Kirsten was named the South African Woman of the Year in 2000 under the media and communications category as a result of the public awareness work done by her organisation, Gun Free South Africa.
"Her key skills involve strategic leadership, knowledge of conflict and violence prevention strategies with a focus on community peace-building, advocacy, organisational management, and research and communications skills.