Shehnaz Munshi


Shehnaz Munshi
Shehnaz Munshi

Young people in the country are demanding change in all spheres of life in South Africa. It is clear that being young, female, black, gender non-conforming, queer is a difficult in the new South Africa. It is also clear that our leaders are failing in their duty to develop strong, resilient, and responsive health systems. Young people in South Africa are no longer content to sit back and wait for leaders to deliver changes. They are taking country back into their hands.

My vision for JuPHASA is to play a leading role in this transformation process. JuPhasa has the potential of bringing together young voices across the countries, to hear, document, and understand their stories. JuPhasa can play a role in nurturing leadership skills to find new ways of doing things. We can shape the discourse, contribute towards policy change, and call out those who use young voices as tokens for an already developed agenda. I am interested in the political economy of health as a tool to move South Africa towards a transformation goal in the spirit of social justice.

  1. I am interested in finding creative ways to access and meet and engage beyond the JuPHASA conference towards a range of activities. This includes supporting civil society projects, policy shifting work, contributing towards accountability.
  2. I am interested in JuPHASA being more visible in the media, and known to be an organization that stands for social justice, peoples health, unafraid to challenge bureaucratic structures in order to speak the truth.
  3. I am interested in using the Internet and other technology to develop a mentoring strategy for young leaders in health in South Africa and on the continent. In this way, public health leaders can contribute towards the call for transformation in South Africa and beyond.
  4. I am interested in building youth networks with countries in the global north and the global south. I am particularly interested in networks with BRICS countries, and universities across the continent to develop exchange programs, share resources and learning networks.


Twenty-two years post democracy; we see a failure of the mainstream academic and health establishment to have responded to the real transformative needs of South African society. This is evident in the wave of movements across the country. The arrest and charging of the Free state Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) members is a key example of this failure. Furthermore, the call by student movements such as #FeesMustFall, #DecolonizeUniversities across the country demonstrate the mechanism through which young people are expressing their anger and disillusionment on.

South Africans are demanding the realization of their rights as enshrined in the constitution. The training for my first degree fits within the context of normativity. My choice of degree, a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, meant that I was trained during the period of ‘false consciousness’ under the guise of the rainbow nation. While this normative structure is under fire from those of us who seek transformation and a decolonized curriculum, it continues to exist today.

I believe that the heritage of leadership in my family and community has influenced me to engage with the critiques and to recognize societies limitations. As a therapist, a conscious citizen, I am grounded in activism. This puts me in a unique position to contribute to contribute academically and philosophically to a transformative agenda for more just society. Furthermore, I am interested in the black radical feminist and social justice critique of South African society as the lens through which to genuinely transform our unequal society, shaped by the historical legacy of Apartheid.

I have worked with younger students in an organization called StAH (Student Advocates for Health) at WITS, helping them understand how to position themselves as socially accountable health care practitioners, and leaders who, through their exposure to vulnerable and ill members of marginalized communities, they can actively act against the injustices they see, and advocate for improvements. As a member of JuPhasa, and a campus representative for WITS University, I am committed to facilitating change, engaging in difficult conversations and translating ideas into a policy level.

I have been involved in setting up a Community Oriented Primary Care Practice in Chiawelo, a success comprehensive PHC facility. This practice values four cornerstones: community participation and inter-sectoral action, and a team based approach with CHWs as central to the team, reorienting services to the community and health promotion using a broader ecological lens. Through this, I have created opportunities to engage with scholars in the burgeoning medical humanities field at the university as part of my interrogation with these normative ideas.

I am not interested in the limelight. I prefer to work behind the scenes in practical spaces. My validation comes from other space. I am a hard worker and a deep thinker. I am keen to learn develop skills that will enhance my advocacy work. I am particularly keen to learn ‘writing skills’, both academic and opinion pieces.


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