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Fatima Hassan

Senior Fellow in Residence, Fall 2012


Fatima Hassan is a human rights lawyer and activist who has conducted public interest litigation, education, training, and legal reform on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS in South Africa for over a decade through her work with the AIDS Law Project and its primary client, the Treatment Action Campaign. She has litigated against the South African government, private employers, and pharmaceutical companies.

A former research fellow with the Constitutional Court of South Africa under Justice O’Regan (2000), she attended Duke University (2001) under the court’s Franklin Thomas Fellowship to complete her LL.M. Afterward, she monitored South Africa’s HIV/AIDS treatment program. She played a leading role in forming the Western Cape Civil Society Task Team against Xenophobia (2008) and helped coordinate humanitarian and legal support for thousands of people displaced by xenophobic strife in the Western Cape. In 2008, she was appointed Special Adviser to Minister of Health Barbara Hogan. She served in the same role to Minister Hogan in her subsequent capacity as Minister of Public Enterprises.

In 2011, Hassan interned with the Mail & Guardian investigate journalism unit, "Amabhungane," focusing on government and private sector corruption and other legal violations. In early 2011, Hassan co-founded Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU - Dare to Know), a social justice organization that focuses on education, community safety,  budget literacy, procurement transparency, media freedom, and community sanitation. She has also worked as a global consultant to the non-profit sector on human rights and the law and advised the Open Society Institute Access to Medicines Initiative (AEMI). Fatima is a former board member of the SA Council for Medical Schemes, former founding director of Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) South Africa, and is currently on the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) Global Advisory Board.

Included in several past editions of the Mail & Guardian/MTN Book of Women and the Financial Mail’s "Little Black Book," she was also selected by the Mail & Guardian in 2004 as one of South Africa's 20 most influential "under-40-year-olds."

After departing Yale, she became the head of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.