A just and equal world? That’s a human right
Who would choose to live in dire poverty? To enter a life of crime just to survive? Marginalised individuals often have no other choice. Gross violations of people’s basic human rights lead to cycles of violence. Jessica Dewhurst confronted this reality when she started volunteering in high school. But the catalyst for her activism came when Dewhurst was attacked at the age of 18. Facing her assailants in court, she felt compassion instead of anger. As their stories unravelled, Dewhurst understood the conditions that drove people to such lengths. If she wanted to solve the most entrenched problems, she’d have to go to the root of them.
In 2013, Dewhurst founded The Justice Desk – a non-profit organisation that works across South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Her goal is to uplift people through training and education, and in doing so enable them to protect their human rights. The projects Dewhurst has implemented range from assisting disabled and elderly people in Khayelitsha to teaching girls self-defence, mentoring young men on masculinity and consent, and reaching vulnerable youth through creative arts. “We believe that by empowering everyday people, they can create a just and equal world,” Dewhurst says.
While running an initiative of this scope, Dewhurst also earned a master’s degree in Social Development. Her team has since improved the lives of over 100 000 people. Every person they reach now has the ability to lead their own change. To address the most prevalent and devastating problems in society, Dewhurst is dismantling the systems of injustice that sustain them. “Tomorrow is going to be better if we work hard enough for it,” she says.