Rights and Realities: Limits to Women’s Rights and Citizenship after 10 Years of Democracy in South Africa

Authored by: Mary Hames

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Political Transitions
Country: South Africa
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2006
Citation: Hames, Mary. "Rights and Realities: Limits to Women's Rights and Citizenship after 10 Years of Democracy in South Africa." Third World Quarterly 27, no. 7 (2006): 1313-27.

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Executive Summary

South Africa's seemingly progressive legislation has been tried and tested over the past 10 years. Subsequent case law has been created and these precedents have given women citizens the courage and opportunities to challenge legislation in the superior and lower courts, and to use other legal mechanisms to improve their access to justice. This article takes a critical look at how effective some of these laws and other mechanisms are in responding to the needs of the most marginalised in South African society. The discussion shows how difficult it still is for many women to exercise or even understand their newly acquired liberal 'rights' as entrenched in the constitution and elsewhere, for a variety of factors. To illustrate these difficulties, the article draws on a series of workshops conducted with black women in a peri-urban district of Cape Town.