Speakers look into women in the constitution-making process

In order to make the constitutional process more broadly inclusive, women and other vulnerable groups in the society should participate in this process. This is according to some speakers who are part of the International Conference on Constitution-Building in Africa on 6 September 2013.

Attorney and lecturer at the University of Botswana, Obonye Jonas in his paper he will be discussing the participation of women, youth and disabled persons in constitution making process. He will do this by drawing experiences from across Africa. He says constitution of country determines the political status, economic, social & cultural development of a nation. So he says the living embodiment of collective values, aspirations and goals of the nation and Forging a common identity, creating institutional spaces is key in the process of constitution making. He argues that constitution-making of a particular country must be tested against for its validity and legitimacy.

The other speaker who zeroes into this issue is Tabeth Masengu, a researcher at the Universitof Cape Town who will look at women and zambia’s constitutional processes. She says Zambia is one of the few countries in the world that can boast four constitutional reform processes in a period of only 49 years since it gained independence. She says these processes have been highly contested and have resulted in three Constitutions that were not very favourable towards particular women’s rights.

Her 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.

She says, 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. Her paper proposes possible measures which that would ensure that more women are incorporated in the constitutional process.

The conference aims to provide a platform for the critical engagement with current and past constitution-making processes on the continent, drawing on the comparative experience of academics and practitioners. It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of South Africa’s Interim Constitution. The Interim Constitution was the product of the negotiations between the apartheid government and the liberation movements, which had already commenced in the late 1980s.

This insightful session will be broadcast live HERE on the day of the conference at 1330hrs-UTC (1230hrs-GMT). Please visit our website, follow @UWC_CLC and like our Facebook Page: Community Law Centre. The participants are encouraged to use the #ConstitutionAfrica on both Facebook and Twitter to be part of this interesting conversation.