Tabeth Masengu - University of Cape Town, Researcher

Standing on the sidelines watching: Women and Zambia’s constitutional processes

Zambia is one of the few countries in the world that can boast four Constitutional reform processes (with a 5th just concluded) in a period of only 49 years since it gained independence. These processes have been highly contested and have resulted in three Constitutions that were not very favourable towards particular women’s rights. This paper examines women’s participation and representation in the Constitutional processes. It briefly traces their role in Constitution making in Zambia and explores whether the increase in women’s participation and representation has resulted in the advancement of their rights. This is because previous Constitutions have ignored certain rights that women have advocated for and Women’s movements have felt that the Constitutional processes have been driven by patriarchal attitudes that aim to maintain male domination. Four particular rights have been selected for discussion in this paper and it is argued that the failure to include these amongst rights has resulted in procedures that fail to accommodate the needs of more than half of the population. The first draft Constitution currently under consideration incorporates most of women’s concerns but could be derailed if the other interests are placed ahead of women’s rights. Therefore, this paper proposes possible measures which that would ensure that more women are incorporated in the constitutional process. 

About Tabeth Masengu
Tabeth Masengu is currently a Research officer at DGRU. She is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and holds an LLB from Rhodes University (Cum Laude) and an LLM in Human Rights (Cum Laude) from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is also the Southern African regional Correspondent of the Oxford Human Rights Hub and the Secretary of the Women and Constitution Working group of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers. Current Research interests include  Gender transformation in the Judiciary, Women Rights and Constitutional processes, Gender dynamics of Zambia’s Constitutional processes and  Women and the Law.

Draft conference paper can be accessed HERE. Note this is draft only not for quotation purposes.

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