Mark Heywood is a South African human rights and social justice activist based in Johannesburg. He studied English language and literature at Oxford University and later African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand. His political activism commenced in the early 1980s in England as a member of the Militant Tendency and continued in South Africa as a leader of the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC.
After South Africa achieved its liberation in 1994, Mark joined the AIDS Law Project (ALP) alongside Justice Edwin Cameron and Zackie Achmat. His activism in civil society spans the whole of the democratic period in South Africa. Between 1997 and 2010 he was the head of the ALP, one of South Africa's most successful post-apartheid human rights organizations. Later he co-founded SECTION27, a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights, which incorporated the ALP in 2010. He was also one of the founders of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in 1998, the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), Corruption Watch and Save South Africa.
Mark has extensive experience of constitutional litigation to realise rights, including the Hoffman, TAC and Dudley Lee cases, as well as in all TAC's early cases challenging the lawfulness of excessive pricing by pharmaceutical companies. He has published extensively on HIV, human rights, the law and politics in both academic and popular media, including co-editing the “AIDS and the Law Resource Manual and Health & Democracy: A guide to human rights, health law and policy in post-Apartheid South Africa”. Mark has chronicled his personal journeys towards social justice in his recent book Get Up! Stand Up! (Tafelberg, 2017).
Mark stepped down as Executive Director of SECTION27 in May 2019. He is now dividing his time between a position as the founding co-editor of a new civil society/social justice segment of the South Africa's most widely read online news source, the Daily Maverick (launched in September 2019), Maverick Citizen, and research on activism and strategies to ensure the enforceability of socio-economic rights and the alignment of economic policy with state duties to realise these rights.
For Michaelmas Term2019, he is a Research Visitor at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights.