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Finalist: Zanele Thabede-Vilakati

Acting Director: Women and Law in Southern Africa- Eswatini


Zanele Felicia Nokhuthula Thabede-Vilakati is a 34 years old female residing in Mbabane, Eswatini. she has experience working in civil society for human rights projects including HIV prevention and management research as well as advocacy in the advancement of women’s rights.

Women's Rights Advocate

Her duties within the organization, amongst others, were to assist in the running of a paralegal initiative, overseeing the implementation of projects from different donors including the United States Embassy to Eswatini, Open Society Initiative in Southern Africa (OSISA) and the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as driving advocacy campaigns for the organization especially during International Women’s Day and the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, I have recently been appointed as the National Director of the same organization, on the 14th September 2020.


She has worked as field coordinator for Community Information for Empowerment and Transparency (CIET) Africa, a health research organization, in an intervention that involved training young women on business and life skills, from 2009 until 2012, as well as for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Doctors Without Border as a Qualitative Research Office Assistant.

She has, amongst others, training skills, conflict resolution skills as well as leadership skills. She’s passionate about helping young women alleviate from a poverty status, avoiding contracting HIV/AIDS and making decisions for themselves. In August 2019 she attained a leadership certificate through the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey in the United States of America.


Educational Background

  • Waterford Kamhlaba (UWC): IGCSE 2002

  • University of Swaziland:

  • Bachelor of Law Degree: 2004-2010 (incomplete)

  • University of South Africa:

  • HIV Testing and Counseling 2013

  • The Psychology of Mentorship: 2014

  • Bachelor’s in Arts Degree in Sociology & Psychology: 2014- 2020

  • Rutgers University New Brunswick

  • Mandela Washington Fellowship 2019


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