Young Ropafadzo Maphosa’s road to a PhD

Johannesburg – Ropafadzo Maphosa is fast-becoming one of the leading voices on laws concerning human rights, gender-based violence and women’s rights, and often offers her analysis and opinion on several media platforms.

At 24, she is also one of the youngest PhD candidates at the University of Johannesburg, where is studying for a doctorate in public international law.

Her research topic focuses on the quasi-criminal jurisdiction of the African court on human and people’s rights.


Maphosa completed high school at 17 and says she worked double-time to finish her LLB and master’s qualifications.

That is why she was able to register for a PhD at such a young age.

Maphosa was born in Zimbabwe into a family of academics. Her mother is a teacher, while her father is a professor.

The family was forced to leave the country due to unrest.

“I was young, but I was triggered by the injustices, seeing people being beaten up for votes. I knew this was not how life is supposed to be and wished then already that I could make a difference,” she says.

Today, she is doing just that.


“I get to make a difference in my writing and hosting seminars about women’s constitutional rights. Even women are unaware of their rights when it comes to abortion laws, maintenance laws, GBV and so forth,” she says.

She says she looks forward to publishing research on pressing issues and eventually becoming a lecturer in the field of law.

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