Kristi Kenyon

Scholars
2007
Mentor(s): 
Current affiliation:
Assistant Professor, University of Winnipeg
Localisation:

Kristi is assistant professor in the human rights programme at the University of Winnipeg.

Kristi Heather Kenyon, a 2007 Trudeau scholar, has worked in, on, and with civil society organizations for more than fifteen years. She studies how and why civil society advocacy groups in sub-Saharan Africa mobilize around health and human rights, why they choose the messages they do, and what impact they have.  Kenyon has a particular interest in HIV advocacy and in the ways culture shapes how we understand human rights. Kenyon comes to the academic world from civil society, having worked with civil society groups in the fields of HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, international development, and torture and the death penalty in South East Asia, Southern Africa, and Canada. She is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University and a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

Doctoral research

Realizing Health Rights: Civil Society Mobilization in the Context of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic 

In her doctoral thesis, Ms. Kenyon examined why civil society groups in the health sector have increasingly chosen to frame their struggles in the language of rights and, how their mobilization can lead to recognition and implementation of health rights. In the past decade health issues have moved from the margins of human rights discourse to the forefront, with international networks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) playing a pivotal role in this transition. The acknowledgement of global inequity and its profound impact on health has pushed issues of treatment and prevention accessibility from realms of health and development to that of human rights. Networks of civil society actors have used the language of rights to campaign successfully for access to treatment and non-discrimination with respect to HIV, for malaria prevention, against infant formula, and for the illegalization of Female Genital Cutting in various jurisdictions through the coordinated action of domestic and international NGOs. Yet the path from advocacy to the realization of health rights is under-examined and little understood in the academic literature. Ms. Kenyon is investigating this phenomenon with specific reference to HIV/AIDS in Africa, a health crisis that has played a critical role in the shift towards rights language among civil society.

In her doctoral thesis, Ms. Kenyon examined why civil society groups in the health sector have increasingly chosen to frame their struggles in the language of rights and, how their mobilization can lead to recognition and implementation of health rights. In the past decade health issues have moved from the margins of human rights discourse to the forefront, with international networks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) playing a pivotal role in this transition. The acknowledgement of global inequity and its profound impact on health has pushed issues of treatment and prevention accessibility from realms of health and development to that of human rights. Networks of civil society actors have used the language of rights to campaign successfully for access to treatment and non-discrimination with respect to HIV, for malaria prevention, against infant formula, and for the illegalization of Female Genital Cutting in various jurisdictions through the coordinated action of domestic and international NGOs. Yet the path from advocacy to the realization of health rights is under-examined and little understood in the academic literature. Ms. Kenyon is investigating this phenomenon with specific reference to HIV/AIDS in Africa, a health crisis that has played a critical role in the shift towards rights language among civil society.

Experience as a Trudeau Scholar

Being a Trudeau Scholar has allowed me to design my own research program and to think big! It's made extensive fieldwork possible, and allowed me to network both within and outside of my field with leading thinking and practitioners. It's also been an experience of being welcomed into a warm, diverse and rambunctious community of people who are movers and shakers as well as researchers. It's impossible not to be inspired at a Foundation event. I'm already excited by the network we've created and how we'll work together as faculty, as policy-makers, having developed strong personal connections through the Foundation.