18 February 2014
The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and the Tshwaranang Legal advocacy Centre to end violence against women (TLAC) are greatly concerned with the under- representation of women in the judiciary. As mentioned by the president in his 2014 State of the Nation Address, some progress has been made towards transforming the judiciary – but women are still critically under -represented 20 years into democracy.
At present, statistics show that females make up 51.3% of South Africa’s population. However, out of 239 judges only 76 are women, meaning that women only make up 31% of the judiciary. With 51.3% females in the country, having only two female justices in the Constitutional Court, the highest court on constitutional matters, is inexcusable.
In order to reflect the gender demographics of the country, the number of women judges would have to increase by at least 20%.
“The constitution requires the judiciary to reflect the race and gender demographics of the country. Women’s access to justice is facilitated by having their peers represented on the judiciary, and seen to be making decisions on cases.” said Jennifer Williams, Director and attorney at the WLC.
Gender inequality is still one of the most pressing issues in the country, and the number of women in the judiciary highlights that.
“To effectively improve gender equality and the respect for women’s rights in this country, it is imperative that leadership, including government and the judiciary are seen to be actively taking steps to improve the representation and participation of women in decision making structures – in this case the Judiciary.” said Shireen Motara, Director at the TLAC.
We call for the Judicial Service Commission to prioritise shortlisting women candidates for vacancies in all the courts, so as to address this serious case of under-representation of women on the bench.
For more information contact:
Jennifer Williams (WLC) : 021 424 5660
Shireen Motara (TLAC) : 011 403 4267