I may not have realised it at the time, but growing up along the Northern Irish border gave me a strong sense of justice.  It also fuelled my belief that justice is not just about legal institutions and the state – for me, it is a community issue.

Going to university was not really something people in my family or neighbourhood did, so I was very nervous when I applied and was accepted. More than anything I was excited about the prospect of forging a career working in the community.  My first job did not disappoint – in Belfast I worked with young people on a range of conflict-related justice issues, such as punishment attacks on young people.  I was inspired by the way they spoke out about these difficult human rights topics.

In North East England I started out as a project worker and then manager of a service supporting people with drug and alcohol issues who came into contact with the criminal justice system. I learned a lot from their daily efforts to overcome struggles of dependence, poverty, and the chaos of being in and out of custody / offending behaviour.   It made me want to look deeper at their experiences, which was the subject of my masters’ thesis.

In Namibia I worked as a manager of HIV / AIDS services.  Working in a country that had previously been colonised and subjected to cruel, yet legal discrimination against black people fired up my sense of justice once again.  Even though apartheid had ended 10 years previously, the legacy of inequality it left was clear.  My awareness of global justice issues developed then, particularly around inequalities in accessing medicines, so crucial for parts of the world affected by major health issues, like HIV. 

Back in England I became Chief Executive of a women’s mental health organisation. This rewarding challenge required me to upskill, so I undertook part-time study to develop my executive management capabilities.  Returning to university for a third time set me on the path to lecturing.  I took a post-graduate course in Africa and International Development part-time, I think to reflect on the global justice issues I encountered in Namibia.  From this I went straight into part-time doctorate research on women’s activism and protest against gendered violence - academia was slowly taking over my life! 

The decision to become a lecturer crept up on me and I’m glad it did.  I thoroughly enjoy engaging students in discussions about issues that matter.  As Social Sciences Lecturer on Criminology Programmes, I see it as my job to challenge students to look at crime from a social justice perspective and I take that responsibility seriously.   

Qualifications and memberships

Kate became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018. In addition to undertaking doctorate research on a part time basis Kate has the following qualifications:

  • PG Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • PG Certificate Africa and International Development
  • PG Certificate Innovation and Improving Performance (Management)
  • MSc Social Administration and Policy
  • PG Diploma Social Administration and Policy
  • BSc (Hons) Community Youth Work

Kate is a member of the British Society of Criminology, the Socio Legal Studies Association.

Academic and research interests

Kate commenced part time PhD research in 2014 on women’s collective activism to challenge violence against women. Her research focuses on women's experiences of collective activitism in societies that have experienced deep forms of conflict and division.  A fuller range of academic interests are indicated in Kate’s recent conference presentations and publications. 


Recent Conference Papers and Publications

Mukungu, K. (2018) 'Locating the Individual in Collective Activism to Address Violence Against Women in Post Conflict Contexts'.  Paper Presented at the Northumbria University Centre for International Development Seminar Services, Women Researchers in Development Studies: Gender, Activism and Global Citizenship Talks, Newcastle, England, May 4th, 2018.

Mukungu, K. (2018) 'But What Do You Do When You Believe that the Law is Wrong? Civil Disobedience in Pro-Choice Activism in Northern Ireland'.  Paper Presented at the North East Crime Research Conference, York St. John University, York, England, 25th April, 2018.

Mukungu, K. (2018) 'Reforming Abortion Legislation in Northern Ireland; Threats, opportunities and political expediency'.  Paper Presented at the Socio Legal Studies Conference, Bristol University, Bristol, England, 27th - 29th March, 2018. 

Mukungu, K. (2017) 'Acknowledging Participants in Research on Activism to End Violence Against Women in Post Conflict Settings'. Paper Presented at the University of Cumbria Interpersonal Violence Seminar Series, Carlisle, England, 6th December, 2017.

Mukungu, K (2017) '"How Can You Write About A Person Who Does Not Exist?": Rethinking pseudonymity and informed consent in life history research', Social Sciences, 6(3) 86, available at .

Mukungu, K. (2017) ‘Challenging Violence against Women and Girls in Post-Conflict Settings: Learning from women activists.’  Paper presented at the Second Annual, Global Status of Women and Girls Conference: Understanding, Defining, and Preventing Violence, Christopher Newport University, Virginia, USA, 24th - 26th March, 2017.

Mukungu, K. (2016) Review of ‘The Struggle for Food Sovereignty: Alternative Development and the Renewal of Peasant Societies Today’, Herrera, R. and Chi Lau, K. (eds) Journal of International Development., 28 (7), pp 1194–1195.

Mukungu, K. (2015) ‘Grassroots Women’s Organising in the Global South’. Paper presented to the Higher Education Innovation Fund events series Tackling Poverty and Inequality in the North East: learning from international practice for changing North East contexts, Newcastle, England, 29th April 2015.

Mukungu, K.  'Women’s Human Rights Activism in Divided Societies.' Paper presented at the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Peace Building Conference, University of Ulster, Belfast, 14th November 2015.

Mukungu, K. ‘“No Namibian will die as a result of a shortage of funds”: sustaining lifelong HIV treatment’. Paper presented at the Northumbria Research Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21st May 2014

Mukungu, K. (2014) ‘Third Sector Commentary: A view on neo-liberalism of the sector’. North East Third Sector Research Group 2014 Digest Review, pp 31-34.

Mukungu, K. (2014) ‘Sustaining Livelong H.I.V. Treatment in Namibia and Beyond’. Focus Magazine, Issue 94, p3.

Recent external roles

Kate has undertaken a range of external roles in recent years including being a member of; the validation panel for the Social Sciences Degree Programme at Blackburn College at the request of Lancaster University, the Gender Advisory Group for Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, the Domestic Violence Executive Forum for Gateshead, and, the Mental Health Programme Board for Newcastle and Gateshead.  In the past Kate also worked as a Consultant for the Ministry of Health and Social Servicess in Namibia developing the National Alcohol Strategy and Policy.