University of Pretoria

Elizabeth Shawa

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Elizabeth is a Malawian national studying her doctorate in Development Studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She has been recognized for her commitment to women and children by being selected in 2017 for leadership training under former US President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

She is a Co-Founder of Facilitators of Community Transformation (FACT) founded in 2015, to help communities engage with health-related issues which affect women and children.

She tutored Mamelodi township children in English and math during school year, and art and dancing during the school holidays; educated children about their human rights.

Elizabeth plans to pursue a career as a policy analyst working with local and international agencies in the areas of care work and youth unemployment. She has plans to launch a bursary scheme project for orphans in Malawi. 

Karin van Niekerk

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Karin is studying a doctorate in Rehabilitation Sciences – Assistive Technology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She works as an occupational therapist providing individual therapy to children and group therapy to their parents. She conducts life skills group therapy in Pretoria Central Prison to juvenile offenders and female adult inmates.

She is also involved with Investigating the barriers that contribute to the under-utilization of assistive technology (AT) by children who have little or no speech. Over and above that she volunteers to assist children with learning difficulties, teaches and mentors Master’s students.

As part of her future plans, Karen plans to become an independent researcher and continue her research to develop this field in South Africa, sharing knowledge through national and international conference presentations, peer-reviewed journal publications, and teaching. She will also continue to address the under-utilization of AT by young children in South Africa

Adetokunbo Johnson

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Adetokunbo Johnson is doing a PhD in Human Rights at the faculty of law, Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She has a huge passion to work with women and girls, particularly domestic violence victims and survivors. Also, her disability has fueled an interest in disability rights; specifically the rights of disabled women and the intersectional discrimination they experience by virtue of their gender and their disability.

Presently while involved with her PhD, she works at the Women's Unit, Centre for Human Rights. She has also worked at BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights as well as Project Alert.

On completion of her doctorate, Ade plans to work as a Human Rights Advocate in Nigeria for a couple of years (private/public sector/ international organization) and then establish an NGO that would provide services for women and the girl child.

Netsai Gwata


Netsai Gwata is studying her Master's in Education at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She has worked with children with autism spectrum and other learning disabilities.

As an educational psychologist, she wants to champion resilience in young women in disadvantaged communities.

She plans to have a wellness center that will cater for various services like assessments, therapy, career guidance and counselling; this center will also create employment for the communities as she will be training therapists to work with children with various learning barriers.