Women, Law and Human Rights in Southern Africa


Banda, Fareda. 2006. “Women, Law and Human Rights in Southern Africa.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32 (1): 13–27.

Author: Fareda Banda


This article examines the development of human rights in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It looks at personal laws and the attempts of parties in postcolonial states to deal with conflicts that arise between the dictates of state customary law, which may be discriminatory towards women, and the move towards embracing human rights with their focus on the removal of sex and gender-based discrimination. While it is clear that there has been enormous progress made in enshrining women's rights, the article urges caution, noting that there are limits to the law's power to change behaviour. Law cannot always provide a solution to discrimination rooted in socio-economic and cultural dispossession. The article is divided into four parts. Part one introduces the legal systems of the region. Part two offers a discussion of the different constitutional models illustrated by case law relating to inheritance. Part three provides an overview of the African engagement with human rights before moving on to consider the two Declarations of the SADC in dealing with gender-based discrimination and violence against women. Part four focuses on the rights contained within the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women, adopted by the African Union in July 2003.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Governance, Constitutions, International Organizations, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa

Year: 2006

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