Since the inception of the LRC in 1979, women's rights has played an integral role in our pursuit of social justice. The primary objective is to ensure substantive equality for all women in South Africa through the alleviation of poverty and inequality. The focus areas include:
equality in the workplace
customary and religious laws
access to land and housing
The LRC seeks creative and effective solutions to achieve its aims. These include using a range of strategies including impact litigation, law reform initiatives, participation in development processes, education and networking within and outside of South Africa. Through strategic litigation, the LRC has been instrumental in developing a strong jurisprudence of substantive gender equality.
Among many others, the LRC was involved in the following key court decisions:
The LRC represented parties in the Constitutional Court decisions in Shibi and Bhe, where the Court suspended customary law rules of male primogeniture until such time as Parliament could redress them. In the Kambule case, the LRC obtained a judgment, which provided that a customary law marriage, though not registered under the Transkei Marriages Act, was still valid, helping to ensure legal benefits for the surviving spouse. In a more recent case Shilubana, the LRC represented the amici in a landmark judgment in which the Constitutional Court ruled that the development of living customary law by traditional authorities in accordance with the constitutional right to equality was valid and thus a woman can be a traditional chief. In
Engelbrecht, the LRC assisted the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) as amicus concerning the effects of 'Battered Woman Syndrome' on victims of domestic violence.
Although significant gains have been made over the past few years, substantial gender inequalities remain. The LRC will therefore continue to empower women by providing free legal advice and, if necessary, effective legal representation.