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Striking the Rock: Confronting Gender Equality in South Africa

28 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2007  

Penelope Andrews

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Faculty of Law


This Article analyzes the status of women's rights in the newly democratic South Africa. It examines rights guaranteed in the Constitution and conflicts between the principle of gender equality and the recognition of indigenous law and institutions. The Article focuses on the South African transition to democracy and the influence that feminist agitation at the international level has had on South African women's attempts at political organization. After dissecting the historical position of customary law in South Africa and questioning its place in the new democratic regime, the author argues that, although South African women have benefited from the global feminist endeavor, they have adopted the shape and substance of women's rights to accommodate conditions peculiar to South Africa. The Article concludes that this balancing of respect for indigenous culture and the ultimate goal of eradication of all forms of sexism provides the best means for women in South Africa to make progress in their quest for equal status in that society.

Keywords: women's rights, constitutionalism, race, south africa, culture

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K40, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Andrews, Penelope, Striking the Rock: Confronting Gender Equality in South Africa. Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 3, p. 307, 1998. Available at SSRN:

Penelope Andrews (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Rondebosch 7701
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021-650-2706 (Phone)

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