Onyema joined the Center in 2007 and focuses on the protection of reproductive health and rights in the African region through a broad range of advocacy and accountability strategies.
She led the planning and implementation of the Center’s first litigation workshop in the African region: the East Africa Regional Litigation Workshop held in Kenya, in April 2013, to build the capacity of human rights lawyers to litigate reproductive rights cases at the national level and develop successful country-level litigation strategies. She has played key roles in several fact-finding projects and co-authored reports including Broken Promises: Human Rights, Accountability and Maternal Death in Nigeria, an\ investigation into maternal mortality, Legal Grounds: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in African Commonwealth Courts, Volume II, a compilation of case summaries and analyses, and The Stakes are High: The Tragic Impact of Unsafe Abortion and Inadequate Access to Contraception in Uganda, a compendium of testimonials regarding women’s personal experiences and stakeholders’ perspectives. Onyema has represented the Center in legal advocacy work with various UN and African regional human rights and political bodies which has resulted in the development of norms and stronger legal standards. She was a delegate at the CEDAW Committee’s Africa Regional Consultations on the Proposed General Recommendations on Women’s Human Rights in Conflict and Post Conflict Situations held in Ethiopia in April 2012 and contributed to the consultations’ official outcome document. She has also provided technical assistance to national-level advocates to achieve law reform and facilitated regional human rights conferences.Her work experience prior to joining the Center includes the Office of the Attorney General of Delta State, Nigeria, International Services for Human Rights in New York, and Oxfam Canada in Toronto.
Onyema received her LL.B. from the University of Nigeria. She holds a specialized LL.M in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and an LL.M. from the University of Toronto, where she was a Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health Scholar. She was admitted to the Nigerian bar in 2003 and the New York State Bar in 2006.