What we do
The Centre has a vision of women in South Africa being free from violence, empowered to ensure their own reproductive and health rights, free to own their own share of property, having a safe place to stay and empowered to work in a safe and equitable environment.
The WLC seeks to achieve its long-term objectives through litigation and related advocacy for law reform. The Centre has identified five strategic areas in which to focus its activities:
- Fair access to resources: We will take up cases that ensure that women receive a fair share of the assets on the dissolution of partnerships, whether by death or separation. This involves ensuring that all partnerships are legally recognised, irrespective of religion and custom.
- Freedom from violence: We will take up cases that improve the access of women and girl children to State protection from gender based violence, particularly rape and domestic violence and increase the protection for girl children from abuse in schools.
- A safe place to stay: We will take up cases that extend tenure to women in their own right, and prevent loss of tenure on the dissolution of relationships.
- Access to work: We will take up cases that extend employment protection to vulnerable groups, develop the law on sexual harassment in relation to vulnerable workers, and ensure equal opportunities in the workplace.
- Being well: We will continue to defend legal challenges to a woman’s right to make choices relative to her own reproductive health, and to litigate to ensure that women have access to reproductive health care. We will take on cases related to women’s access to health care and the interface between HIV/AIDS and our other strategic focus areas.
In order to empower women through knowledge of their rights, the WLC offers free legal advice to them. Wherever possible they are assisted by the Centre or referred to an appropriate institution, NGO or court for assistance. The bulk of the queries we receive involve the dissolution of partnerships, gender based violence and maintenance.
In the long term, we hope to contribute to building capacity in the sector so that it is more effective in advocating for the equality of women. Our advocacy and training work focuses on providing support to other organisations and groups of organisations which advocate the advancement of women’s rights in the WLC’s focus areas. We assist these organisations by providing legal opinions; drafting and making submissions to parliament; presenting workshops and drafting legislation, regulations and policies. We provide training to ensure the communication and implementation of gains won in court, and as an activity to recover costs.
Finally, working with a view to the transformation of the profession and broader society, we train candidate attorneys to ensure the transformation of the profession, and seek to make submissions on the gender record of acting judges before they are appointed. We also provide information, training and capacity building services on a regional level.
Our Mission and Vision
Develop law, policy, legal jurisprudence based on a human rights framework and paradigm.
Drive a feminist agenda that appreciate the impact gender issues have on women within different classes, race, sexual orientation, identity and disability.
Empower women to access their rights within their home, communities and society.
Establish a cadre of black feminist lawyers within South Africa and ensure gender transformation of the legal profession.
Statement Of Purpose
The Women’s Legal Centre is an African feminist legal centre that advances women’s rights and equality through strategic litigation, advocacy and partnerships. We aim to defend and protect the rights of vulnerable and marginalised women, in particular black women, and to promote their access to justice and equitable resources. We seek to advance women’s freedom from violence, substantive equality, and agency in all aspects of their lives - at home, at work, in the community, and within society at large.