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The Helen Kanzira Lecture is an annual lecture on sexual and reproductive rights in Africa, held within the framework of a consortium of 13 African universities that present the Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA). 

Helen Kanzira was a graduate of the HRDA programme. She studied towards and obtained the degree in 2000, the first year the programme was presented. This makes her one of the ‘pioneers’ – the first of a group of around 30 bright African minds, that would over the next 21 years grow into a formidable network of human rights professionals making a difference across Africa, and internationally.

After completing the programme, Helen returned to Uganda, where she applied her knowledge and skills to advance human rights. Sadly, and far too early, she passed away in 2007, due to complications from child birth. While we then and now mourn her untimely loss, we honour her memory – her vibrancy and humanity – through this lecture.


Helen Kanzira Lecture 2021


Helen Kanzira Lecture 2021

The 2021 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the University of Nairobi, Kenya on 13 July 2021.

  • Theme: Impact of Covid-19 on Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights in Africa.
  • Keynote address: Dr Jacinta Muteshi

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2020

The 2020 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the University of Lagos, Nigeria on 18 June 2020.

  • Theme: Gender inequalities, social inequities and maternal deaths
  • Keynote address: Professor Friday Okonofua, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Health, University of Benin

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2018

The 2018 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the University of Venda, South Africa on 19 September 2018.

  • Theme: Safe and voluntary motherhood a matter of human rights: We can do more
  • Keynote address: South Africa Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2017

The 2017 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique on 30 May 2017.

  • Theme: Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls: Maternal Health Rights in Mozambique
  • Keynote address: First Lady of Mozambique Dr Isuara Nuysi

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2016

The 2016 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the University of Ghana on 31 March 2016.

  • Theme: Protecting women’s reproductive health rights in Africa: A moral of legal obligation
  • Keynote address: Ms Bernice Sam

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2015

The 2015 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented in partnership with the Makerer University, Uganda on 15 October 2015.

  • Theme: Exploring Uganda’s performance on the MDG’s in the area of Maternal Health: Achievements and Challenges?
  • Keynote address: Dr Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa, the Family Health and Population Advisor at the World Health Organisation

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2013

The 2013 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria on 10 Deecmber 2013.

  • Theme: Exploring possibilities for promoting women’s sexual and reproductive health rights: The power of advocacy
  • Keynote address: Mr Steven Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS Free World

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2012

The 2012 Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria on 15 May 2012.

  • Theme: Valuing women as autonomous beings: Women’s sexual and reproductive health rights
  • Keynote address: Ms Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Helen Kanzira Lecture 2011

The inaugural Helen Kanzira Lecure was presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria on 29 November 2011.

  • Theme: Climate Change and Human Rights: Connecting the Dots on Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Keynote address: Ms Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Founder and President of the Foundation for Climate Justice, and Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights

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