Women's rights

High Court in Zimbabwe orders woman be recommended for Mvuthu chieftainship vacancy

When their chiefly father died leaving only three daughters, the eldest of them, Silibaziso Mlotshwa, might have seemed the obvious choice to succeed to the Mvuthu chieftainship. But instead her uncle, Saunders Mlotshwa, got the nod from the government's district administrator. This followed a meeting of the Mlotshwa men at which they said a female chief ‘would be an insult’. Now, however, the high court in Bulawayo has ordered that the administrator propose the daughter’s name for the vacant position.

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After the death of Zimbabwe’s Chief Nyangayezizwe Mvuthu Mlotshwa, the meeting called to discuss his successor turned into something else: it became an opportunity for local men to express strong views against women in positions of traditional leadership.

Husband's right to ‘rule over his wife’ – it's gone!

Women’s month may be over for 2019, but there is one new judgment that cannot be left out of consideration. It comes from Eswatini where a full bench of the high court - Principal Judge Qinqisele Mabuza with Judges Titus Mlangeni and N J Hlophe – has handed down a hugely significant decision: it delivers women from the power a husband has had to ‘rule over his wife’.


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This is a case with enormous implications for Eswatini women: three judges have spelled out the implications of the constitutional guarantee to equal treatment before the law. And they have definitively ruled that the common law doctrine of marital power discriminates against married women.

Among others, the now discredited marital regime offended the right of married women to dignity and to equality.


First woman chief justice sworn in for Ethiopia

For the first time in the country's history, Ethiopia has a woman chief justice. Meaza Ashenafi was sworn in as the head of the Federal Supreme Court today, 1 November 2018. She had been nominated by Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. Ashenafi, the founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, is widely regarded for her work as a human rights activist.  

The swearing-in ceremony of Meaza Ashenafi as Ethiopia's first woman chief justice was immediately given significant coverage, with the Washington Post, for example, running a story headed, "Women’s rights activist named to head Ethiopia’s Supreme Court in new reform".


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