Spotlight - Human Rights practitioner & scholar Danielle Louw

29 May 2019 - 08:15

Spotlight - Human Rights practitioner and scholar Danielle Louw

As a schoolgirl growing up in the Southern Cape town of George, Danielle Louw knew she wanted to work in the human rights field and in pursuit of social justice.  Now, a decade later, Danielle holds a BA Law with majors in Psychology and English studies, and an LLB from Stellenbosch University - and she is currently registered for her LLM in Human Rights Law at in the UCT Faculty of Law.  Impressively, Danielle is the recipient of one of only 20 Open Society Foundation Commemorative Scholarships in South Africa, to pursue her LLM studies.

No stranger to scholarship awards, Danielle was selected - in her final year of LLB studies - to participate in an exchange programme at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where she completed a combination of bachelors and masters modules. In 2017, Danielle commenced her two-year contract of community service at the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic where she provided free legal services to those qualifying for legal aid. Here she was exposed to a variety of legal issues, but particularly excelled in opposing applications for eviction brought against her clients. Danielle always holds her clients’ best interests at heart and, on hearing about an unsuccessful outcome for her clients (a family of 8), she appealed to the Western Cape High Court and won the appeal with the assistance of pro bono counsel.

Danielle was also part of the team of researchers who made submissions to National Treasury as to why ‘tampon tax’ – the levying of VAT on sanitary items – should be scrapped. In October 2018 the minister of finance announced that VAT will no longer be charged on sanitary pads. This came into effect on 1 April 2019.

Danielle’s particular interest, however, is in refugee law and the protection of the human rights of woman refugees in South Africa and worldwide. This interest was fostered while studying migration law in Amsterdam as well as during her two years at the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic where she assisted foreign nationals seeking to navigate their rights under South African law. 

Danielle is awaiting her admission as an attorney in the High Court of South Africa and is now working closely with UCT Law's Refugee Rights Unit Director, Dr Fatima Khan, who is supervising her dissertation.  Danielle's dissertation is focused on the protection of refugee women’s human rights and state responsibility.

UCT Law is very pleased also to be the postgraduate academic home of a second OSF-SA Commemorative Scholar, Phumeza Mlungwana, pursuing her MPhil in Criminology, Law & Society.  

​​​​​​​OSF-SA - Commemorative Scholars 

In celebration of its 25 years of grantmaking in South Africa, the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) initiated a number of innovative programmes.  One such initiative is the Commemorative Scholarship programme, supporting postgraduate students to pursue degrees in the social sciences and humanities.  Under the theme, “Advancing democracy, promoting constitutionalism, and empowering vulnerable and marginalised groups”, Commemorative Scholars are pursuing further studies in the following areas: Law, Justice, and Governance; Sustainable Development and Natural Resource Management; Economic Rights, Justice and Empowerment of the Poor; Public Health and Inequality; and a range of other rights-focused areas of study. Each scholarship provides tuition fees at a registered South African tertiary institution and financial support to assist with the costs associated with full-time study.