Farewell to Professor Rashida Manjoo

12 Nov 2020 - 16:00

The Faculty's Department of Public Law held a special discussion on Thursday 5 November 2020, to acknowledge the distinguished career of Prof Manjoo - and to bid her farewell as she leaves the Faculty end-2020.  Prof Manjoo's contribution to human rights and social justice - locally, regionally and internationally - through academic publications, postgraduate teaching, public office (Gender Commission) and in the role of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2009 - 2015) has been extensive. The event celebrated Rashida's accomplished career as a human rights activist, researcher and teacher. 

Professor Rashida Manjoo was born and raised in Overport, Kwazulu-Natal. When she matriculated, it was not financially possible for her family to allow her to pursue tertiary education. She therefore spent almost fifteen years working at a clothing factory. Despite this, by 1997 she had earned three degrees. She continued throughout this time to work part-time to fund her own studies and raise two children.

Prof Manjoo's full bio and CV are available on the Department of Public Law website

The Farewell

Since 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and its founding Charter, we used the occasion to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the global human rights project. Over the course of her time at UCT, Prof Manjoo has taught many South African and international students - either as a supervisor of masters and doctoral research or as convenor of the course on the International Protection of Women's Human Rights.

We were delighted that many of these students chose to participate in the retirement event as discussants in a conversation (moderated by Salona Lutchman) on the statement of the late UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld who said that the United Nations "was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell". Hailing from five different countries (SA, Zambia, Canada, US, Germany, Norway) the eight students brought different perspectives to the conversation, coloured by their own contexts and understanding of the pertinent issues (see below for list of participants, and their brief bios).

The event included a tribute from Sibongile Ndashe, a women's rights activist and founder of the Institute for Strategic Litigation (ISLA). She spoke about Rashida's contribution to the field of women's rights. Jameelah Omar, also in the UCT Department of Public Law, paid tribute to Rashida as a mentor to students and staff in the faculty. Prof Danwood Chirwa, Dean of the UCT Law Faculty, then spoke of her contribution to the faculty over her time at UCT.

The floor was then given to Prof Manjoo to say farewell. Prof Pierre de Vos, Head of the Department of Public Law (Prof Manjoo's academic home) then rendered the vote of thanks and closed the event.

Salona Lutchman, Human Rights specialist in the Department of Public Law, facilitated the discussion.





Prof Pierre de Vos, head of the Department of Public Law, acknoweldged Prof Manjoo's contribution to the Faculty and more broadly.





Professor Danwood Chirwa, Dean of Law, shared his throughts of appreciation and recognition of Prof Manjoo's contribution to UCT and more broadly.






A number of former students and Faculty colleagues participated, including (amongst others):

(from left to right): Sibongile Ndashe, Zaid Khatib and Jameelah Omar

The full session is available on the Faculty's youtube channel.

Student participants

1. Rebecca Gore

Rebecca Amy Gore is currently a law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Prior to this, she interned at the Presidency Legal and Enforcement Unit at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Rebecca is an LLB graduate (Cum Laude), and also holds a B.Soc.Sci (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and a B.Soc.Sci (Hons, Justice and Transformation), all from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Rebecca has interned for various human rights organisations including the Legal Resources Centre and Sonke Gender Justice.

2. Christina Beninger

Christina Beninger is a PhD Candidate in Law at UCT and an international human rights lawyer from Canada. She has

3. Didem Demir

Didem Demir, German lawyer who did her LL.M. at UCT in human rights law and had rashida as her Masters Supervisor. Consultant and researcher for NGOs in the field of women’s rights, legal tech and access to health, eHealth, specifically in the African context.

4. Johannes Wendland

I studied law at the University of Münster, Germany, where I also worked at the Institute for Roman Law and European Private Law. After graduating, I worked in an international law firm for a while before traveling through South-America and then doing an LL.M. in Human Rights Law at UCT. My interest in the fight for human rights comes from many years of volunteering with Amnesty International.

5. Zaid Khatib

Zaid is a Palestinian-American currently pursuing an MPhil in Human Rights Law. Prior to attending UCT, he worked at Frontline Solutions, a Black-led consulting firm specialising in advancing intersectional equity in the social change sector. He is also an activist who largely organises around police demilitarisation and abolition.

6. Leonora Staerfeldt

I am an international student at UCT from Norway. I am currently doing an LLM in Human Rights Law, and last semester I was fortunate to have Prof Manjoo as my teacher in the International Protection of Women's Human Rights module. I am living in Denmark at the moment and finishing my degree from abroad. 

7. Abel Longwe

I am a Zambian lawyer admitted to the Zambian Bar to practice as a Barrister and recently completed my Master of Laws Degree (LLM) specialising in Refugee Law and Human Rights, International Protection of Women's Human Rights and International Rights of the Child at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. I have a keen interest in and is passionate about the rights of the marginalised, specifically women, children and refugees and access to justice.

8. Lorna Houston

Completed an MPhil in Human Rights Law at UCT, due to graduate in December. Recently served as the University of Cape Town President of Convocation. She is currently employed as the programme coordinator at Brave Rock Girl. Lorna was born into a black working-class family in Cape Town and was part of the South African liberation struggle and continued as a grassroots activist focussed on children, youth, education and gender. She spent the past 6 years running a successful social enterprise, since leaving full time employment. Houston Initiatives has facilitated care for careworker wellness sessions and retreats at regional, national and local levels, facilitated resilience building retreats nationally with organizations who work to end gender-based violence, organized and conducted young women’s feminist dialogues and activities with a special focus on sexual health, reproductive health, human trafficking and decent work, conducted a Safety Audit focused on young urban women’s safety nationally. Managed Cape Town leg of a four-country feminist education and advocacy project - Young Urban Women.