Civil society: Gender and human rights

Aninka Claassens
Legal Resources Centre
Tel: +27 84 510 2333

Aninka Claassens’s name has been synonymous with land reform and fighting­ for the most marginalised and voiceless sector of society since she was a student in the 1970s.

Claassens was a technical expert to the Constitutional Assembly in 1995, the special adviser to the first democratically elected land affairs minister Derek Hanekom and was awarded the Oppenheimer grant to be a senior associate member at the St Antony’s College at Oxford University three years ago. Graduating from the University of Cape Town and Wits, where she did an honours degree in industrial sociology, she worked as a union organiser for Fosatu — which subsequently became Cosatu — during the early 1980s and was elected as the general secretary when she initiated the farm labour project. She became famous as the beautiful battle-ax field worker working for the Transvaal Rural Action Committee and was hated by the security police and homeland police for assisting countless communities threatened with forced removal and eviction from farms. She is contracted by the Legal Resources Centre to coordinate research relating to the Communal Land Rights Act 11 of 2004.

Helene Combrinck
Senior Researcher and Coordinator of Gender Project
Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape
Tel: +27 21 959 2353

Helene Combrinck is a senior researcher at the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape, and coordinates the centre’s Gender Project. The Gender Project does research, education and advocacy in the field of gender-based violence, and its current work includes a focus on sexual assault law, access to housing for women experiencing domestic violence, firearm-related domestic violence and the intersections between gender-based violence and HIV/Aids. Combrinck has published extensively on various aspects of gender equality and women’s rights and has also been involved in various submissions on law reform to parliamentary committees and the South African Law Reform Commission. Other research and advocacy concerns include the rights of children with disabilities.

Zubeda Dangor
Executive Director
Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development
Tel: +27 11 854 5804/5

Zubeda Dangor is the executive director of the Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development and has worked extensively in the field of gender-based violence. She serves on the executive of the National Shelter Movement, which she helped to establish; she has been instrumental in the founding of two shelters for women and children affected by gender violence. Dangor has been a member of the editorial board of the international feminist magazine Lola Press, as well as books such as Women’s Health Project Book and Reclaiming Women’s Spaces. She has taught a course on gender violence and community development for master’s students at the University of Johannesburg and has conducted extensive training on gender and gender violence. Dangor has a BA (hons), an MEd in educational psychology, a higher diploma in adult education cum laude and a PhD in psychology. She received a post-graduate scholarship through the Institute for International Education to study at the University of Notre Dame in the US. In 2006 she received an international community service award from South African Women for Women, based in Toronto, Canada.

Zohra Dawood
Executive Director
The Open Society Foundation for South Africa
Tel: +27 21 683 3489

Zohra Dawood is both executive director of George Soros’s Open Society Foundation for South Africa and the director of the Soros Foundation’s work in Indonesia, and she works with the foundation in other parts of Africa. Her responsibilities include the development of policies and a strategic vision for the foundation, as well as programme plans and the development of partnerships locally and internationally. The Open Society Foundation is committed to promoting the values, institutions and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic civil society. Dawood came to the Open Society Foundation in 1999 from the department of land affairs, where she served as deputy director for restitution policy and implementation. During the 1990s she worked for almost a decade with the Surplus People Project as researcher and research manager. She has also taught at Khanya College and lectured in economic history and sociology at the University of Cape Town. She has degrees in law and African government and administration as well as a master’s degree in economic history.

Vuyiseka Dubula
General Secretary
Treatment Action Campaign
Tel: +27 82 763 3005

Vuyiseka Dubula was elected general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in 2007. She is open about her HIV-positive status, has organised TAC branches and is a past national coordinator of People Living with HIV/Aids, which she represents on the South African National Aids Council. Dubula received an award for courageous leadership from the Oslo-based Letten Foundation in 2004. She was a founder of the TAC treatment project, which assisted TAC members to get access to antiretroviral therapy before the government started its public sector treatment programme. She has presented papers at a number of conferences, both in South Africa and in Europe, including a Unesco conference in Paris on treatment literacy and the 2007 Aids conference in Durban. Dubula studied human resource management at Tygerberg College and is completing the final year of her BA in social health and science at Unisa.

Pregs Govender
Gender Activist
Tel: +27 21 650 2970

Pregs Govender has dedicated her 30-year career to women’s emancipation and equality. Today, Govender builds women’s leadership in politics through a project called Women’s Lip. At the inception of democracy, she led the Women’s National Coalition, which mobilised about two million women to influence the drafting of the Constitution. As an ANC MP from 1994, she convened the gender and economic group of the finance committee and chaired Parliament’s committee on women. In Parliament’s 1994 debates she initiated South Africa’s Women’s Budget. Govender resigned in 2002, after being the only MP to register her opposition to the arms deal in the budget vote, and after asserting that her party had to address the horrific impact of HIV/Aids on women and girls. She established South Africa’s first Workers’ College at the University of the Western Cape before being employed by the Women’s National Coalition to manage its Women’s Charter campaign. Her bestselling autobiography, Love and Courage, was published in 2007.

Fatima Hassan
Aids Law Project
Tel: +27 21 422 1490 /

Fatima Hassan is an attorney and former deputy head of the Aids Law Project (ALP). She graduated from Wits in 1994 with an LLB and completed her articles at the university’s Community Law Clinic. In 1996 she joined the ALP where she conducted public interest litigation, education, training and legal reform in the area of HIV/Aids and non-discrimination. In 2000 Hassan joined the Constitutional Court to complete a research clerkship with Justice Kate O’Regan. She was awarded the Franklin Thomas Fellowship by the court to pursue an LLM at Duke University, which she completed in 2002. Since her return she has been the ALP’s attorney of record in several key cases against government, big business and pharmaceutical companies. She coordinates the ALP and Treatment Action Campaign’s monitoring of the ARV treatment programme, including convening the Joint Civil Society Monitoring Forum. She is an active member of the TAC and an honorary research fellow at Wits. She sits on the board of Médecins sans Frontières South Africa and the Open Democratic Advice Centre.

Thembekile Doris Hlubi
Executive Manager
Muthande Society for the Aged
Tel: +27 31 332 6853

Thembekile Doris Hlubi was a health promotional worker for what is now the eThekwini department of health when she turned to the plight of the aged. Hlubi was a founder member of the Muthande Society for the Aged, deputy secretary of its committee after its inauguration in 1982, and was promoted to secretary in 1985. She was administrative officer for three years until 1990, when she became the society’s executive manager. The society is an empowerment shareholder of Nozala Investments. Hlubi is an executive committee member of the national executive committee of Age-in-Action, representing KwaZulu-Natal, and regional secretary of the Young Women’s Christian Association. Over the years, she has accumulated relevant diplomas — in health education, personnel and training management and community development — and certificates in primary health care management and in adult education.

Rhoda Kadalie
Executive Director
Impumelelo Innovations and Awards Trust
Tel: +27 21 461 3783

Rhoda Kadalie’s work in human rights and social development is well respected in South Africa. She is the executive director of Impumelelo Innovations and Awards Trust, which rewards projects that fight poverty in partnership with the public sector. The former commissioner on the Human Rights Commission cut her political teeth at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in the 1980s as an anti-apartheid protester. She also directed the then District Six land claims unit for the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights, a suburb where she lived as a small girl. Kadalie is a hard-hitting columnist for Business Day and was a lecturer in anthropology and founder of the gender equity unit at UWC. She holds an MA degree from the Institute for Social Studies in The Netherlands. In 1999, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

Alice Kwaramba-Kanengoni
Gender Programme Adviser
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa
Tel: +27 11 403 3414/5/6

Alice Kwaramba-Kanengoni has worked with regional human rights organisations her entire working life. Her focus has been on gender and women’s rights issues. She began her career as a senior researcher, and later deputised for the head of the gender programme at the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre in Harare, where she edited the series Beyond Inequalities: Women in Southern Africa. She then joined Gender Links in Johannesburg as a senior researcher, coordinating the region-wide Gender and Media Baseline Study. She joined the Johannesburg-based Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa as assistant programme manager in the human rights and democracy building unit before taking on her current responsibility as gender programme adviser and communications manager. She is the editor of the society’s quarterly publication OpenSpace which provides space for dialogue on key governance and development issues in the region. Kanengoni holds a master’s in media and communications from the University of Oslo in Norway and a bachelor of arts in literature from the University of Zimbabwe.

Lerato Legoabe
Girls’Net Project Manager
Tel: +27 11 429 0000

Girls’Net is a Women’sNet initiative that promotes the use of ICTs by South African girls to produce and disseminate their own information, in their own voices and for their own development. Project manager Lerato Legoabe has extensive experience as a youth and gender activist and has held numerous leadership positions in student politics and Young Women’s Networks nationally. She has participated in national and international conferences that focus on the intersecting dynamics of youth, women and ICTs, including delivering a keynote address at the “Fill the Gap”, Youth and ICT Conference in Amsterdam in 2004, and the Forum on Women’s Activism in Constitutional and Democratic Reform in Canada in 2006. Legoabe has a background in the natural sciences and studied at the University of the Western Cape. She is an advocate for the rights of children and youth, especially girls, to actively participate in media, and serves on the online advisory reference group for the World Summit on Media for Children and Youth to be held in Sweden in 2010.

Jackie Loffell
Independent Consultant
Advocacy Coordinator
Johannesburg Child Welfare Society
Tel: +27 11 298 8500

Jackie Loffell works as an independent consultant and is employed part-time as the advocacy coordinator for the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society. Her key responsibility is the coordination of the organisation’s efforts to influence legislation and social policy relevant to children and families. She has served as a social worker in the field of child and family welfare for more than 30 years. She obtained her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1997, with her thesis on Social Work Intervention in Child Sexual Abuse. She was a member of the South African Law Commission’s project committee on the review of the Child Care Act, a process that entailed five years of research and consultation and provided the foundations for the new Children’s Act. She works on a number of networks involved in the promotion of child and family well-being and the strengthening of the social welfare service system.

Colleen Lowe Morna
Executive Director
Gender Links
Tel: +27 11 622 2877

Colleen Lowe Morna is executive director of Gender Links, an NGO that specialises in governance, media and gender justice. Lowe Morna serves on the presidential task team on women and is a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Gender and the Media. Among other positions she has held are coordinator of the Africa office of the Inter Press Service in Harare; correspondent for South Magazine and Africa editor of the New Delhi-based Women’s Feature Service. She joined the Commonwealth Secretariat as a senior researcher on the Africa desk in 1991 and served as chief programme officer of the Commonwealth observer mission to South Africa. After the 1994 election, she became an adviser on gender and institutional development to the Commonwealth’s special programme of assistance to South Africa. She subsequently served as founding CEO of the South African Commission on Gender Equality. Lowe Morna is author of several publications on gender and the media. She is also editor of Ringing up the Changes: Gender in Southern African Politics, the first comprehensive study of the impact of women in politics in this sub-region.

Evangelina Shirley Mabusela
Managing Member
Bafelile Consultancy
Tel: +27 11 539 0214

Evangelina Shirley Mabusela is an independent consultant working in the field of child rights. Mabusela was a probation officer and social worker and was deputy director at the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society when she left to join the Children’s Foundation. In the early 1990s Mabusela was the national executive director of the National Children’s Rights Committee, where she managed the process that saw children’s rights included in the Constitution. She also led the development of the National Programme of Action for Children. In 1995 she served on the South African Human Rights Commission, as deputy chairperson and chairperson. She holds a BA in social work from the University of the North, a post-graduate diploma in advanced social work practice from Wits, and a management diploma. She is a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Teddy Bear Clinic and the Centre for Education Policy Development and is a member of the Council of the University of Venda. She is also national treasurer and Gauteng chairperson for the SA Women in Mining Association and chairperson of HydroWSA.

Sheila Meintjes
Head of Department: Political Studies
University of the Witwatersrand
Tel: + 27 11 717 4371

Professor Sheila Meintjes has lectured in political studies at the University of the Witwatersrand since 1989. She has a BA (hons) from Rhodes University, an MA in African studies from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in African history from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University. She teaches African politics, political theory and feminist theory and politics. She was a full-time commissioner on the Commission on Gender Equality between May 2001 and March 2004, where she led the commission’s governance programme and was responsible for the commission in Gauteng. Meintjes has been involved in feminist and women’s politics in South Africa since the early 1970s — as a member of the United Women’s Organisation in the Western Cape and the Natal Organisation of Women, and was on the research supervisory group of the Women’s National Coalition. She is the chairperson of the boards of Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to end Violence against Women and of Women’sNet.

Shereen Mills
Attorney and Researcher
Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Tel: +27 11 717 8607

Shereen Mills is a feminist lawyer and researcher based at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1998 she received the Maria Pia Gratton Award, a fellowship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the US, where she spent a year doing postgraduate work on post-colonial, feminist and African-American women’s literature. She has worked in the areas of race and gender equality, with a primary focus on the unequal position of black women in our society. Her current work involves research, advocacy, teaching and strategic litigation on gender-based violence, poverty and women’s access to justice. She has published papers and research reports on various aspects of gender and the law. In 2003, she completed an LLM at Wits. She sits on the board of the Gender Education and Training Network in Cape Town, and also acts as trustee of the Women’s Legal Centre Trust.

Janine Moolman
Media and Information Manager
Tel: +27 11 429 0000

Janine Moolman is a feminist editor, writer and activist with extensive experience in the South African women’s rights sector. She is a former editor of Agenda, South Africa’s longest surviving feminist journal, has contributed to a number of publications dealing with women and gender issues and was a columnist for the Mercury newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal. She was formerly the editor and assistant director at Gender Links, an NGO that promotes gender equality in and through the media. Moolman is the media and information manager at Women’sNet, which promotes the strategic use of ICTs to help women and marginalised groups to develop their own knowledge and perspectives and make sure these are adequately reflected on the web, and in media more broadly.

Nicolette Naylor
Women’s Legal Centre
Tel: +27 21 421 1380

As an activist at the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) Nicolette Naylor focuses on reproductive rights and violence against women and she litigates test cases for and on behalf of women to advance gender equality. She was the attorney who represented the woman involved in the test case in which an employer was held liable for an act of sexual harassment perpetrated by one employee against another. Naylor was also the attorney in the groundbreaking Van Zijl child-abuse case, which fundamentally shifted the law of prescription in South Africa in relation to the time limits in which survivors of childhood sexual abuse may press charges. Naylor lobbies in Parliament for law reform in areas such as rape, sexual harassment and reproductive rights. Recently she was on the drafting team appointed to amend the Code of Good Practice on sexual harassment. Naylor has a master’s in international human rights from the University of London.

Delphine Serumaga
Executive Director
People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa)
Tel: +27 11 642 4345

Delphine Serumaga is the executive director of People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa). She drives the strategy and vision of Powa to meet the needs of the gender-based violence sector. Additionally, she sets out to influence change in women’s lives through her committee work: she is the chairperson of the social cluster of the Presidential Working Group for Women, and a member of the steering committee of the Civil Society Advocacy Programme. Having grown up in Uganda, Delphine developed her interest in the status of women in developing countries in Canada, where she studied at the University of Guelph in Ontario. This is where her career in women’s rights started in 1991. She continues to have great passion for the development of a decent standard of living for women in Africa.

Tamara Shefer
Director / Associate Professor
Women’s and Gender Studies Programme
University of Western Cape
Tel: +27 21 959 2234

Tamara Shefer, a professor at the University of the Western Cape, is the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Programme at her institution, having previously taught in the psychology department of the same university where she has been for the past 14 years. Her experience includes working as an adult educator, particularly in the areas of gender training, and she is a registered research psychologist. Her research has focused on the themes of feminist psychology, gender-based violence, gender and sexuality, with a specific focus on the negotiation of safe sex practices, gender and sexual identities, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/Aids. Her current interests include the stigmatisation of HIV/Aids, alternative sexual and gender identities and practices, masculinities and the transformation of higher education, research and authorship. She has written a host of articles on gender issues in South Africa.

Carrie Shelver
Programmes Coordinator
People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa)
Tel: +27 11 642 4346

Carrie Shelver, programmes coordinator for People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), is a feminist and human rights activist who has worked in the violence against women and lesbian and gay sectors for the past decade. Shelver is a co-founder of the One in Nine Campaign, which was launched in March 2006 at the time of the Jacob Zuma rape trial. It is an advocacy campaign with more than 26 organisational members that draws attention to the problems within the criminal justice system; its name refers to a report noting that eight out of nine rape attacks are not reported. Shelver’s work at Powa has been instrumental in contributing to advocacy strategies aimed at addressing discrimination. Her academic background is in adult education, politics and applied linguistics. She is committed to the transformation of society, which will result in the realisation of constitutional rights and guarantees.

Elinor Sisulu
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Tel: +27 12 361 4869

Writer and human rights activist Elinor Sisulu is engaged in media and advocacy work for the South African office of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the major umbrella body of Zimbabwean NGOs. She combines training in history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory. She is passionate about children’s literature and has been instrumental in the establishment of a children’s literature network in South Africa under the auspices of the Centre for the Book. She is the author of the award-winning children’s book The Day Gogo Went to Vote (1996), the story of a grandmother voting in South Africa’s first democratic election. Her biography about her mother-in-law and father-in-law, entitled Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime (2003), won the Noma Award, Africa’s most prestigious literary prize. Born in Harare, she was educated in Zimbabwe, Senegal and The Netherlands.

Joan van Niekerk
National Coordinator
Childline South Africa
Tel: +27 31 563 5718

As the national coordinator of Childline South Africa, Joan van Niekerk is tasked with the development of child protection services. She is also involved with monitoring, development, lobbying and advocacy around legislation and policy affecting children’s rights and child protection. Van Niekerk plays an important role as a trainer for those involved in child protection, including training on the management of child and adult sexual offenders. She maintains her clinical social work practice with adult and adolescent clients. Van Niekerk has sat on a number of committees and boards, which, internationally, include the Expert Facility of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Child Helpline International Management Board; and, locally, the editorial board of child rights journal Children First, the Sexual Offences Bill advocacy committee, and the KwaZulu-Natal crisis care funding applications committee.

Lisa Vetten
Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst
Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre
Tel: +27 11 403 8230/4267

Lisa Vetten is a senior researcher and policy analyst at Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre. She has worked in the area of violence against women since 1991 and managed the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s gender programme. Vetten was a member of the executive committee of the Gauteng Network on Violence Against Women, and is a member of the steering committee of the South African Gender-Based Violence and Health Initiative, as well as the management committee of the Reproductive Rights Alliance. Writing for a number of newspapers and academic publications, she has played a key role in raising public and legal awareness around the circumstances in which women kill their abusive partners. She has also been an expert witness for both the prosecution and defence in matters involving rape, domestic violence and men’s killing of their intimate female partners. In 2000 she was a finalist in the Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year awards.

Everjoice Win
International Head: Women’s Rights
ActionAid International
Tel: +27 11 731 4500

Everjoice Win’s working life has been spent in the women’s movement in Zimbabwe and on the African continent, notably with the Women’s Action Group and as programme officer with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), a pan-African women’s rights NGO. She headed the Zimbabwe programme of WiLDAF, spearheading the organisation’s participation in a number of international conferences that put African women’s rights issues on the map. Win served as a Commonwealth adviser to South Africa’s Commission on Gender Equality and is a founder member of a number of civil society movements, among them the National Constitutional Assembly of Zimbabwe, Women in Politics support unit, the African Women’s Leadership Institute, and the Feminist Political Education Project. She also serves on boards of regional and international women’s rights organisations. She is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines on topical women’s and human rights issues. She is the international head of women’s rights with ActionAid International.

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