Long Essays

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Judicial training on the use of human rights to promote gender equality An overview of the jurisprudence of the equality programme in Kenya Judicial training on the use of human rights to promote gender equality An overview of the jurisprudence of the equality programme in Kenya

International human rights law is constantly being refined and developed but in many countries, traditional legal training ignores the international dimension and lawyers and judges may know little about these comprehensive human rights law statements and provisions. This essay evaluates the Kenyan experience of an International Women Judges Foundation project which set out to close the gap between rhetoric and reality by implementing a unique judicial education programme entitled ‘Towards a jurisprudence of equality: women judges and human rights law’. The project equips judges with the knowledge and skills needed to resolve cases arising in their national courts which involve discrimination and/or violence against women, in accordance with the principles enshrined in international and regional human rights legislation. The author outlines the project’s activities in Kenya and concludes that the training programme has had a positive impact on the implementation of regional and international human rights law. She points out that a growing number of judicial officers are now willing to explore the protection offered by international instruments to safeguard the human rights of women and concludes that the training programme needs to be expanded to all judicial officers.

By Praxedes Tororey

 

Judicial training on the use of human rights to promote gender equality: An overview of the jurisprudence of the equality programme in Kenya
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Protecting teenage girls from HIVAIDS The role of the state and society in Tanzania Protecting teenage girls from HIVAIDS The role of the state and society in Tanzania

This essay discusses the cultural, social and economic issues contributing to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Tanzania – one of the greatest threats to the country’s development. The author outlines and evaluates the various ways the government has intervened to try to control the situation but she is particularly concerned about the vulnerability of the girl child in Tanzania. Cultural practices such as early marriages are still rampant and the school dropout rate is unacceptably high so, while Tanzania is signatory to international human rights legislation requiring governments to eliminate all harmful social and cultural practices, girls are still not adequately protected. Despite shifts in policy and new laws, like the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act 1998, government efforts remain largely ineffective and the author recommends a more proactive, rigorous approach to the problem. She looks at the issue of young people’s access to information and suggests that a life skills education programme would be one way of empowering young people so they can make the right decisions about safe sex and their own reproductive health.

By Rose Teemba

A critical analysis of the efficacy of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia in protecting the rights of widows A critical analysis of the efficacy of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia in protecting the rights of widows

This article examines the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59 of the Laws of Zambia to assess whether it complies with international treaties and conventions and adequately protects the rights of widows. The author uses a theory of patriarchy to explain women’s position in society through a plural perspective and cites relevant case law to investigate the way the law functions within this context. While the law provides equally for men and women, gendered perceptions and cultural norms still ultimately prevent women from claiming their rights. Consequently, while a woman is granted the right to the family home on the death of her husband, this right is withdrawn should she decide to remarry. The author points out further anomalies in the application of the Act and reveals that gendered, patriarchal and cultural forces still override the law’s attempt to comply with international human rights legislation. Even the Zambian constitution is ambiguous with regard to cultural practices and needs to be reviewed. She also calls for a review of the Intestate Succession Act chapter 59, taking into account the cultural reality of women’s position in society and dealing with particular situations like polygamous marriages and customary land. She acknowledges that a shift in societal attitudes is also needed and recommends a rigorous information campaign.

By Daphne Chabu

 

 

The case for delivering credit with education in contrast to delivering credit only to the rural poor The case for delivering credit with education in contrast to delivering credit only to the rural poor

This essay begins by examining different international rights legislation that specify that every human being has a right to development and the skills, knowledge and opportunities to achieve this development. Governments are obliged to set up policies and programmes to provide an enabling environment for this and women, so often excluded, need the opportunity to be empowered and join the mainstream of development. The author describes how the Ugandan government has gone out of its way to support microfinance institutions, which often give women priority, and has put legislation in place to protect people’s savings and to protect the organizations themselves. She then goes on to describe and assess the efficacy of the various development models which have been implemented to deliver information, education, training and credit opportunities to women. Most of these models have focused on either training or providing credit but the author shows how, by combining these two, as is done in the Credit with Education programme, poor women have had the opportunity to develop a better standard of living. The Credit with Education programme has proved that, by providing the essential training and information in a single co­ordinated package, women have not only been able to take advantage of the credit on offer and succeed in generating the income to meet their family and household needs but have also been able to improve their economic, social and political positions, particularly in rural areas.

By Grace Mutenyo

‘A roof over my head’ The rights of a civil marriage wife under family law to the matrimonial home registered in the sole name of her husband ‘A roof over my head’ The rights of a civil marriage wife under family law to the matrimonial home registered in the sole name of her husband

This essay looks at the current law of property in Zimbabwe and, by analysing a number of cases, assesses how it has affected women in civil marriages. The comprehensive and individualistic right of ownership over property conferred by the law is in conflict with the reality in marriage where two people merge their wealth generation capacities for mutual benefit. It has been common for property to be registered in the husband’s name and on the death of a spouse or on divorce, the wife has some rights to the property she has helped to acquire and maintain. However, the situation of a civil law wife within a marriage is far from ideal and is certainly in contravention of the international human rights legislation that Zimbabwe is party to. The current law does not take into account the gendered aspects of property acquisition and, consequently, the wife has no official right to participate in any decisions relating to the matrimonial property. The author suggests that this law, which has long been described as outdated and anomalous, needs to be changed by introducing the in community of property regime into the standard marriage contract or by introducing specific legislation to deal more equitably with the matrimonial home.

By Emilia Muchawa

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