Every year, the Vera Chirwa award is given to an alumnus or alumna of the LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) programme in recognition of their contributions to the advancement of human rights.

On 8 December 2017, Melanie Smuts (Class of 2012) and Musu Bakoto Sawo (Class of 2014) were jointly awarded the prize for their groundbreaking work in South Africa and The Gambia respectively.

Melanie’s commitment to improved access to quality education in South Africa through her Streetlight Schools formed the basis for her selection for the prize. While Musu was awarded the prize in recognition of her relentless commitment towards the eradication of harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia.

As co-recipients of the 2017 Vera Chirwa Award, Melanie and Musu will be working on a human rights campaign with the Centre for Human Rights, amongst other things aimed at supporting the work that they do.



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