n South African Journal on Human Rights - Girls' socio-economic rights in South Africa

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



This article explores girls' socio-economic rights fulfilment in South Africa. After setting out the international law context, the article turns to the lived reality of girls in this country through an examination of their rights to healthcare services, nutrition, social services and security, and shelter. The research indicates that whilst girls are babies and young children they enjoy relatively equal access with their male counterparts to socio-economic services made available to children by the state. However, during pre-puberty and adolescence girls face barriers in accessing their socio-economic rights. The challenges are linked to girls' biological and economic vulnerability, the relationships of power and difficulties in the negotiation of sexual relationships, lack of access to reproductive health rights, and the expectations of girls being caregivers. The article concludes with a consideration of how solutions might be developed, together with girls, to assist them in the achievement of their socio-economic rights. It further recognises that girls belong to the broader groups of both women and children, and that solutions should reflect a relational approach to rights.

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