Africa Law Institute :: Research Programme
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Women and the Law

By every indicator of social well being, many women in Africa are disadvantaged relative to men and as compared to their female counterparts in other parts of the world. The Women and the Law research program will explore the role of law in capturing, legitimizing and entrenching deep cultural norms and community practices that reinforce and perpetuate the subordination of women in Africa.

Under this program, the Institute's researchers will study how law reform can be used to improve the lives of women both individually and collectively. Focusing on areas of critical importance to African women, our research will examine how legal norms can be utilized to eradicate domestic and other forms of violence against women, and how discriminatory property laws interact with patterns of authority within the family, the tribe, the workplace and the community to capture and lock women in a vicious cycle of economic dependence that excludes them from full participation in social, economic and political life.

But to ensure that African women are fully able to enjoy their rights as coequal participants in society, their concerns should not be considered in clinical isolation from other human rights problems. Therefore, our research in this area will identify approaches that will encourage African countries to sign, ratify and implement international treaties meant to foster and protect the rights of women. In this regard, we will draw upon international legal norms to ensure greater equality for African women, especially those in vulnerable situations, for instance, following family breakdown (that is, divorce, legal and de facto separation) or during conflict when warring parties often use rape, sexual abuse and violence to coerce, humiliate, punish and intimidate women.


Judicial Reform and Legal Training

2. Globalization, Trade Policy and Law

Women and the Law


Africa and Sustainable Development


Politics, Institutions and Civil Society


Africa and Private Sector Development