Sonke Gender Justice Network: Policy Development and Advocacy Specialist

Sonke Gender Justice Network
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Sunday, 2 February, 2014
Opportunity type: 

Sonke Gender Justice Network is a South African-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that seeks to strengthen government, civil society and citizen capacity to take action to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. With a full-time staff of 100 people working from offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Agincourt, Sonke’s work reaches across the nation and the continent, as well as the globe. In this way the organisation contributes to the development of societies in which men, women, youth and children can enjoy equitable, healthy and happy relationships that contribute to the development of just and democratic societies.
Sonke Gender Justice Network seeks to appoint a committed, well qualified and experienced as Policy Development and Advocacy Specialist (PDA Specialist), based in Cape Town or Johannesburg.

The PDA Specialist is part of Sonke’s Policy Development & Advocacy Unit and the organisation’s full management team. The PDA Specialist manages two important legal projects at Sonke: 1) the prisons advocacy project and 2) the UCLA Law-Sonke Health & Human Rights Fellowship. The prisons project advocates for inmates’ rights to health and freedom from violence, focusing on addressing HIV and AIDS and sexual violence in South Africa’s prisons. Sonke advocates for proactive policies and effective accountability systems to prevent these abuses, using legal, media, and coalition-based advocacy strategies. The UCLA Fellowship is a post-graduate programme that provides full bursaries to graduates of South African law schools to obtain their Master of Laws degree at UCLA School of Law. The fellows return to work for Sonke upon graduating, to support legal projects in the Policy Development & Advocacy Unit.

The position is a 12-month fixed-term contract position renewable each year depending on funding.

  • Prisons Project
    • Monitor the development, legislative and policy process, and implementation of these to address HIV and AIDS and sexual abuse in prisons;
    • Develop and implement empirical and legal research projects to build the evidence base our prisons advocacy.  Where appropriate, this includes hiring and managing expert consultants to design and conduct quantitative and qualitative field research;
    • Develop publications including advocacy reports and training materials, and publicly disseminate them;
    • Liaise closely and regularly with the community mobilisation team that works inside prisons to ensure that policy and legal advocacy is informed by the lived experiences of inmates and the real challenges hampering HIV and AIDS and sexual abuse-related services in prisons;
    • Produce Parliamentary and other submissions to government on bills, policies, and key issues pertaining to our prisons advocacy;
    • Coordinate coalition building under the banner of the Detention Justice Forum ( for strategic advocacy to advance inmates’ and other detainees’ human rights. Manage relationships with key partners in the area of prisons reform;
    • Work closely with strategic partners to monitor implementation of the National Policy Framework to Address Sexual Abuse of Inmates, and other relevant laws and regulations;
    • Work closely with relevant partner organisations to work with survivors of prisoner rape and other ex-inmates who wish to raise public awareness on the realities of prisons and the need to proactively make them safer and healthier;
    • Work closely with strategic partners to monitor and support the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services in its efforts to independently monitor and report on conditions in South Africa’s prisons. This entails building its capacity to respond o inmate complaints related to HIV and AIDS, sexual abuse, and health more broadly;
    • Draft opinion pieces and public commentary for publication in newspapers, online, and radio, pertaining to the prisons project;
    • Manage Sonke’s relationships with the national offices of the Department of Correctional Services and the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. 
  • UCLA Law – Sonke Health & Human Rights Fellowship
    • Manage the fellowship programme, including coordinating the advertising and recruitment of fellows, the application process, and overseeing the selection process together with the Director of the UCLA School of Law Health & Human Rights Law Project;
    • Supervise the fellows in their course selection, monitoring their progress while at UCLA and ensuring they stay on track to meet the requirements of the fellowship and to graduate with top marks from UCLA Law. This includes ensuring their academic work aligns with and can be used to advance Sonke’s mission;
    • Supervise the fellows at Sonke during their 12-month placement within the Policy Development and Advocacy Unit. This includes working with them to develop publications in academic journals, advocacy reports, and ensuring that they are developed professionally throughout their year;
    • Coordinate and supervise ten-week work placements at Sonke for law school interns from UCLA School of Law;
    • Manage the relationship with UCLA School of Law, including possible annual travel to Los Angeles for strategic planning, lectures on campus, and recruitment of legal interns. 
  • Donor Relations and Resource Mobilisation
    • Manage relationships with existing donors who fund the prisons and UCLA Fellowship, including the production of timely, high quality reports;
    • Work with the Resource Mobilisation Manager to secure funds for the prisons work and the UCLA Fellowship. 
  • Internal Collaboration and Legal Support
    • Collaborate with different teams in Sonke to ensure the maximum impact and reach of the prisons project and the UCLA Fellowship. Collaboration with community mobilisers and prisons trainers is crucial for the prisons advocacy project;
    • As appropriate and assigned, provide support to other projects in the organisation that may need guidance on legal and policy components of their work;
    • Contribute to internal trainings on relevant laws and policies, including but not limited to the prisons project. 
  • Possible other responsibilities
    • Depending on the candidate and the needs of Sonke, the PDA Specialist may also supervise and contribute to the work of the Policy Development and Advocacy Associate and other Policy staff, including the decriminalisation of sex work campaign, and may be responsible for day-to-day management of the Policy Development and Advocacy Unit.


  • LLB Preferred candidates will have an LLM and be admitted attorneys;
  • Record of publications, preferably including in peer-reviewed journals and respected news outlets;
  • Minimum of five years of work experience in a relevant field including:
    • Working knowledge of the criminal justice system and experience leading strategic advocacy, preferably on prisons reform.
    • Strategic litigation, may be in a supporting role
    • Access to medicines or improving health systems in difficult environments
    • Addressing sexual violence and working with survivors of violence
    • Management experience, including supervising a team.
  • Competitive candidates will demonstrate the ability to manage a complex portfolio of work while interacting sensitively with the highly vulnerable inmates and ex-inmates they will interact with. Candidates should have successful track records of working with partners and coalitions;
  • Candidates must be tenacious and strategic in their advocacy efforts, adept and convincing communicators, excellent writers, have attention to detail, and employ a management style that is focused on developing and mentoring their direct reports;
  • Candidates must have working knowledge of the legal education system in SA and preferably in the U.S. and demonstrate a keen interest in developing stellar public interest lawyers.

Compensation: Sonke is offering a competitive salary and benefits package that is negotiable dependant on experience and qualifications.

To apply, submit a CV, contact details of three references (including email addresses) and motivation letter  Candidates living in Cape Town will be given preference.

Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted, Do not make inquiries and Sonke reserves the right not to fill this position.

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