Sexual and Reproductive Rights Programme

The Sexual and Reproductive Rights Programme seeks to support research, networking and activism which prioritizes sexual and reproductive rights. The programme also strives to strengthen young women’s leadership in sexual and reproductive rights work, to address issues of violence against women, to work with LGBTIQ writers and activists on the continent, and to develop theoretical frameworks which can drive new approaches to understanding and implementing sexual and reproductive rights contextually.

Sexual & Reproductive Rights Programme: Areas of Work


Partnership Building

Public Intellectual Dialogue

Capacity Building

Programme Convenors:

Dr Barbara Boswell

Dr Barbara Boswell is a Project Officer for the Young Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Leadership Project at the African Gender Institute. At UCT she coordinates an action research group on sexual and reproductive health rights, while providing support for action research projects on SRHR at five SADC universities. Barbara has a PhD in Women's Studies from the University of Maryland, a Master's degree in Gender and Women's Studies from the University of the Western Cape, and an undergraduate journalism degree from Peninsula Technikon. She has worked as a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the University of Virginia in the US. Her research interests include youth sexualities, feminist and women's movements, and feminist approaches to black South African literature.

Telephone: +27 (0) 21 650 4209 Email: barbara.boswell(at)

Associate Prof. Jane Bennett

Jane Bennett has disciplinary backgrounds in literature, linguistics, sociology and feminist theory, and has worked at the State University of New York, Barnard College, and since 1999, within the University of Cape Town. Her research interests are in feminist theory, sexualities, pedagogies and violence and she has published many articles and book chapters in these areas. She is also interested in research which is allied to political activism, in different areas, within and beyond university spaces within the African continent. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. She works regularly with colleagues at the University of Buenos Aires, Makerere University, the University of Ghana, the University of California (Davis) and the Human Sciences Research Council. She also works with a number of NGOs across Southern and Eastern Africa. In the African Gender Institute, she is responsible for teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses, postgraduate supervision, research development and networking, research and publication, and the convenorship of core programmes in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics.

Contact Details:
Tel: (+27) 21 650-4203

Marion Stevens (Associate at the African Gender Institute)


Marion Stevens has a background as a midwife, in medical anthropology and in public and development. She has worked in the area of sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS for some 20 years. She is currently the coordinator of WISH Associates (Women in Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health) a network of nine South African consultant activists.

In the past few years her work has involved a range of high level activities including the responsibility of developing two South African policies. She developed the Learner Pregnancy strategy for the Department of Basic Education and the Adolescent Health policy for the Department of Health. Both these processes involved the engagement and participation of a range of stakeholders. She is also currently on the National Department of Health task teams for the development of the revised contraception guidelines and the new Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights implementation Strategy framework. She also recently developed a training manual for health workers in relation to sexual orientation and gender identities. She has just completed leading an evaluation process internationally in reviewing the work of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights currently located in the Philippines’. Marion is also well networked into local South African civil society groups. Content areas:HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and rights, women’s health, key populations, diversity and gender, health systems and human resources. Capacity and skills: Project management, advocacy & networking, facilitation & teaching, organisational development, report writing, proposal writing & fundraising, qualitative & quantitative research, strategy, policy analysis and development, monitoring and evaluation, and business analysis.


UCT Press and the Book Lounge cordially invite you to the launch of Jacketed Women - Qualitative research methodologies on gender and sexualities in Africa, edited by Jane Bennett and Charmaine Pereira, featuring a discussion between co-editor, Jane Bennett and guest speakers Pumla Gqola and Divine Fuh.

Please RSVP to Portia Gqamane ( / 021 659 2340)

Jane Bennett has disciplinary backgrounds in literature, linguistics, sociology and feminist theory, and has worked at the State University of New York, Barnard College, and since 1999, within the University of Cape Town.

Kezia Batisai
PhD Research: Body politics: An illumination of the landscape of sexuality and nationhood? Re-seeing Zimbabwe through elderly women’s representations of their sexual and gendered lives
ABSTRACT available
Supervisor: A/Prof Jane Bennett

More than 40 students and lecturers from the Universities of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, Wits University and the University of Cape Town recently gathered at a three-day workshop hosted by the African Gender Institute’s Young Women’s Leadership Project. The workshop’s aim was to build capacity in the areas of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) education, action research and feminist leadership.

Source: The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network) website - (24 February 2014)

The young Ethiopian woman at the centre of a trial where she was gang raped by seven men has been found guilty of committing “Indecent Acts”. She has been sentenced to 1 month in prison which has been suspended and a fine of 5000 Sudanese Pounds (approximately 961USD). Read More.

Source: Reuters (13 January 2014) 
By Felix Onuah
ABUJA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill on Monday that criminalises same-sex relationships, the presidency said, defying pressure from Western governments to respect gay and lesbian rights.
The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex "amorous relationships" and membership of gay rights groups, was passed by the national assembly last May but Jonathan had delayed signing it into law. READ MORE.
Source: iol news (27 November 2013)
By Bernadette Wolhuter
Durban - A question in the matric dramatic art exam this week, where pupils were asked to describe how they would stage the rape of a baby using a loaf of bread and a broomstick as props, has horrified teachers, parents and pupils.
The Department of Basic Education, however, stood by its decision to include the question, with its spokesman, Elijah Mhlanga, saying that a subject, like the rape of a 9-month-old baby, was “not new” to a Grade 12 pupil. READ MORE.

Please join Free Gender for the launch of their first book, Rivers of Life, stories and poems by black lesbians from Khayelitsha.

Source: (2 November 2013)
By Paula Chowles
CAPE TOWN - Women’s health advocates argue that illegal abortions in South Africa are thriving due to the poor public health services.
Despite progressive laws that ensure right to terminate a pregnancy, some experts say the health department is doing little to ensure that all women have access to adequate support. READ MORE.


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