Nikki Stein

Nikki Stein is an attorney at Section27, focusing on the right to basic education. Working with schools in Gauteng and Limpopo she deals with issues of sexual violence, school infrastructure, learner and teacher materials and access to education. Facing a near-overwhelming volume of cases daily, 30-year-old Stein manages to cope by using her own “starfish theory”, knowing that even the small difference she makes matters to an individual. Her work recently brought her up against the department of basic education and the Limpopo department of education in litigation to compel them to provide textbooks to all schools in Limpopo. Stein’s job goes beyond advocacy and into activism and she is a firm believer in the rights to equality, dignity and liberty. “I have had to learn fast since my days as a corporate lawyer [about] how to toyi-toyi outside a courtroom and use means other than the law to effect social change,” she says. — Billy Rivers