Women in law and justice

Dancer, Helen (2020) Women in law and justice. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. pp. 1-18.

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Abstract

African law and justice systems in the early 21st century are the result of over a thousand years of religious and cultural influences and political change on the continent. As customary and Islamic laws became reinterpreted and formalized by colonial states, women experienced the effects of successive periods of religious and political conquest as an entrenching of patriarchal control in the family and personal law sphere. The 20th century saw African women’s resistance rise from the grass roots as an important force for national liberation. African women’s legal activism grew after political independence and African women lawyers were part of global feminist movements. In the wake of dramatic political changes across Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, the global sphere of rights post-1989 became an enabling frame for women’s legal activism. Political transitions to multiparty democracy, the liberalization of African economies, and a wave of constitutional reforms strengthened women’s rights and gender equality guarantees. The 1980s and 1990s saw the founding of regional and pan-African women’s legal activist organizations, including the Action Committee of Women Living Under Muslim Laws and Women in Law and Development in Africa as well as the adoption of the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2003. In the 21st century, while social, economic, and legal inequalities persist in spite of many gains for women’s rights, some African women lawyers have risen to occupy the highest echelons of the judiciary in several countries and in international courts.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: African law, CEDAW, colonialism, customary law, family law, gender equality, human rights, inheritance, Islamic law, justice, women’s human rights
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
K Law > KL-KWK Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica > KR Africa
Depositing User: Helen Dancer
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 09:01
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2020 13:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/89297

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