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.

Source: (4 February 2015)

By Rachelle Chadwick and Marion Stevens

We know that gender and sexual violence are major problems in South Africa. We know that we have shockingly high rates of rape, domestic violence and femicide. What is not always recognised however is a different form of violence against women. This is violence that is perpetrated predominantly by women and which targets other women when they are in one of their most vulnerable moments. We are talking here about birth violence that happens to women during labour and when they are giving birth to a new life. While reports of abuse in maternal health services have been fairly widespread since the early 1990s, these incidents are often not framed as a form of violence against women. Some view these incidents as the work of a few bad apples and not indicative of wider attitudes. We know from writing on the issue that the factors involved are complex and multiple, including an over-burdened public health system, lack of resources, highly stressed staff and health-care providers and a long apartheid legacy that still marks our healthcare system. READ MORE

Contraception PSA about access to termination. Advert developed by by Soul City. VIEW VIDEO

Source: The Mail and Guardian (22 August 2014)

By Jane Bennett and Marion Stevens

We write in dialogue with last week’s piece by Meg Rickards, Petticoat protester’s long walk. We stress “dialogue” because, given the scale of the gender-based violence in our city and country, dialogue among all of us involved in seeking strategic and powerful solutions is essential.
As anyone who follows the local news will know, five sex workers have been murdered in Cape Town in as many weeks. At the start of Women’s Month on August 3, Anita, a sex worker, activist and paralegal at a local women’s organisation, was robbed of her cellphone by a 19-year-old boy, who pushed her down and assaulted her.
A day earlier, the body of a 19-year-old sex worker was found in a Kenilworth parking lot. Gender-based violence against women, girls and boys is all-pervasive in South Africa. Women’s Month reminds us of this. READ MORE.


Watch digital stories on the V Condom (Kalk Bay, February 2014). The digital storytelling workshop was funded by PATH.

Prevent Suffering and Death 2

A pamphlet developed in 1994 for the parliamentary process for the liberalisation of the abortion law in South Africa

* These manuals can also be found on the Wits School of Public Health website

Source: Mail and Guardian
Letters to the Editor (23 May 2014)
Ina Skosana’s “Contraceptives: South Africans are still out of the loop”  cites the department of health as indicating that “two-thirds of sexually active women in South Africa are using contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy, yet almost 90 000 abortions were performed in government clinics and hospitals in the 2012-2013 financial year – almost 20 000 more than the previous year …”. 


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