Born in Zimbabwe, Ms. Innocentia Mgijima-Konopi is a human right lawyer whose work focuses on advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa. Having earned a Law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa in 2010, Ms. Mgijima was awarded the Open Society Disability Rights Scholarship in 2013 which enabled her to study towards a Masters in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy at National University of Ireland, Galway. The master’s degree set the foundation for the work she have been doing to advance and foster the formulation, implementation and domestication of disability rights on the continent.
She joined the Centre for Human Rights, an academic department in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa as programme coordinator for the Disability Rights Unit after completing her masters studies and subsequently became the Unit’s Manager, a position she still holds. The Disability Rights Unit, has been instrumentally involved and significantly contributed to disability rights education and scholarship in Africa through its many innovative programmatic activities in the years she has led it. The Unit under her leadership has produced the first academic journal on disability in Africa, the Africa Disability Rights Yearbook (http://www.adry.up.ac.za/), created the first Disability Rights in Africa Repository (http://rodra.co.za/), developed the first Masters in Disability Rights in Africa in which she teaches the module contemporary challenges in disability rights in Africa the right to health is a component of that module (https://www.chr.up.ac.za/academic/llm-mphil-disability-rights-in-africa); created a network of Law Schools across the continent that teach disability rights at undergraduate level and developed the curriculum for these schools (https://www.chr.up.ac.za/disability-rights-projects/law-schools-project-in-africa); developed and conducted training workshops on human rights and advocacy for frontline organisation working to advance the rights of persons with albinism in Africa https://www.chr.up.ac.za/dru-news/929-capacitating-frontline-organisations-working-to-advance-the-rights-of-persons-with-albinism-in-africa and conducted training for criminal justice officials in Zambia, South Africa, Namibia on access to justice for persons with disabilities, particularly focusing on the provision of accommodations in the criminal justice system among many other innovations.