Re-envisioing Gender Justice in African Customary Law through Traditional Institutions

"Securing gender justice – gender equality – between the sexes in a cultural milieu elicits much debate among policymakers, human rights activists and traditional institutions. This paper discusses the attempts that have been made to protect the rights of women through national legislation and international human rights instruments, and argues that such attempts are inappropriate and ineffective within African traditional societies. Legislation as a tool to reform societal relations in diverse traditional African communities hampers the development of indigenous or customary law. The authors examine the four key issues that constantly arise in this debate: gender justice and equality as a right and value, marriage, access to justice, and legislation as a tool for ensuring gender justice. It is argued that traditional systems are equal to and even surpass the national legislation and universal human rights instruments usually invoked by some scholars and human rights and gender activists."