Multi-award winning public health practitioner, bold health activist and
2017 Woman of the Year in Health in South Africa

Dr Shakira Choonara is a multi-award-winning public health practitioner, bold activist, 2017 Woman of the Year in Health in South Africa (SA) and holds accolades including Destiny Magazines Most Powerful Woman under 40 in SA, listed as a 100 Most Influential Young African and the 2017 National Research Foundation of SA Next Generation Researcher. Dr Choonara is currently serving within the multilateral agency space, access her full LinkedIn profile and affiliation here https://www.linkedin.com/in/doc-shakira-choonara-a0631413/.

Dr Choonara is widely recognized for her work on universal health coverage, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights and youth development. Dr Choonara has previously worked at the World Health Organization, a former member of the inaugural African Union Youth Council and AHAIC Commission on universal health coverage in Africa.  Dr Choonara is currently appointed to the second Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing and is a Board Member for AMREF Health Africa.


Steering Group member and Youth Commissioner for the Second Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

International board member of AMREF Health Africa

AHAIC Commission on the State of UHC in Africa

Youth Health Africa board member

Creativity will Save Us board member

Operation Smile South Africa, Ambassador

Guest Editor on Gender-based violence innovations, Frontiers Women in Health

Guest Editor, Agenda, Feminist Journal published by Taylor and Francis

African Union Youth Council Appointee


32 Most Prominent South Africans, In Good Company Book/ Reach for A Dream, 2021

500 Most Influential Africans Worldwide, Tropics Lifestyle Magazine

NCD Child Young Leader, 2021 – 2023

50 Most Powerful Women in South Africa, Mail and Guardian 2020

Mentor, Global Youth Mobilization, 2022-2023

Mentor, Global Health Mentorships, 2017 & 2020

USAID, YouthLead Ambassador and Peer-Advisor, 2019-2020

100 Most Influential Young Africans, Africa Youth Awards, 2018 & 2019

Obama Foundation Africa Leader, 2018

100 Future Young Mandela’s, Visionary Leader, News 24, South Africa, 2018

Listed as the most Powerful Woman under 40 in South Africa, Destiny Magazine, South Africa, 2017

Woman of the Year, Healthcare – Woman of Stature Network, South Africa, 2017

National Research Foundation, Next Generation Female Researcher (Top Young Researcher), South Africa, 2017

Public Health Association South Africa (PHASA) Emerging Practitioner Award, 2017

Young Health Programme Leader & One Young World Ambassador, 2017

European Union, Development Days Future Leader for Health, 2015

Emerging Voice (EV) for Global Health, 2014

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Young Leaders Programme, 2014

Dedication and achievement in research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Research Awards Celebration, University of the Witwatersrand, 2016

Youth Scholarship Award Women Deliver, 2016

Special Recognition Award for European Development Days, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2015

Postgraduate Merit Award Bursary, University of the Witwatersrand, 2012 and 2014-16

National Research Foundation of South Africa Freestanding Scholarship, 2012 and 2014-16

School of Public Health, Seed Funding Grant, University of the Witwatersrand, 2015

Awarded Best Humanities Poster at the 5th Cross Faculty Postgraduate Expo at the University of the Witwatersrand, 2013

University of the Witwatersrand, University Council Postgraduate Scholarship, 2012

Hewlett Foundation Fellowship, 2012

Golden Key New Member Chapter Award for Academic Merit and Leadership, 2012

Best Student Oral Presentation at the 7th Annual Population Association of South Africa Conference, 2011

Best Student Poster in Health, Education and Policy at the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Day and Postgraduate Expo, 2011

Certificate of First Class for Introduction to Population Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, 2012

Certificate of Merit for Basic Demographic Methods, University of the Witwatersrand, 2012

Outstanding Achievement for first year Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, 2008 & 2010

HCI Foundation bursary, 2009 & 2010

Runner-up to the undergraduate Medical Ethics Research Competition, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2010

University of the Witwatersrand Entrance Award, 2008