Jessica Dewhurst is an award-winning Human Rights defender and social developer from South Africa. She volunteered in multiple NGOs while in school, working with children infected or affected by HIV/Aids, refugee children, and children who have been victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. After various personal encounters of violence, she recognised the need to create safer communities and address the systemic causes of poverty, so that no young person would ever have to turn to crime and violence as a way of survival.
In 2012, she completed the ERI Human Rights training at the United Nations in Geneva. This experience inspired her to dedicate her life to working for justice, and she traveled the world promoting Human Rights alongside various youth organisations. Jessica believed that in her country of South Africa the greatest need was in educating, training, and empowering local people to become their own agents of change.
Jessica holds various undergraduate, honours and master’s degrees in Social Development, specializing in Children’s Rights and anti-human trafficking; as well as an international leadership qualification from The University of Cambridge. She has been named a Top 10 South African Inspirer, a 30 Under 30 Top Achieving South African, a Top 30 Young African, and an Under 25 Who’s Who of SA. She has received awards from South African president Jacob Zuma, Prince Edward, Countess Sophie, Lead SA, The Young Independents, and most recently she became a Queen's Young Leader, receiving a medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace. In 2019, she was named Glamour Magazines "Woman of the Year".
She has dedicated her life to the fight for Human Rights across the globe, training and equipping thousands of men, women and children to be advocates for change and hope in their communities.