oa Constitutional Court Review - 'The stubborn persistence of patriarchy'? Gender equality and cultural diversity in South Africa

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2073-6215



These four opening quotes illustrate the ongoing tensions between claims to culture and claims to gender equality in South Africa's constitutional democracy, especially in relation to the cultures, traditions and customary law of black South Africans. After, traditional leaders failed to insulate the cultural domain from constitutional scrutiny in the 1993 Constitution, a series of laws and court judgments have secured important equality rights for women living under customary law. Yet, even as parliament and courts have granted women equal rights within the family and to inheritance and recognition as traditional leaders; a 'stubborn persistence of patriarchy' means that these rights remain contested in the public and private spheres. Women's rights of access to communal land and within customary courts remain sites of struggle between the claims of traditional leaders and those of community members, including women. Much of this currently centres on the nature and extent of traditional (male) power over land, property and community.

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