Africa, with its mix of statute, custom and religion is at the centre of the debate about law and its impact on gender relations. This is because of the centrality of the gender question and its impact on the cultural relativism debate within human rights. It is therefore important to examine critically the role of law, broadly constructed, in African societies. The book focuses on women's experiences in the family. This is because the lives of women continue to be lived out largely in the private domain, where the right to privacy is used to conceal unequal treatment of women which is justified by invoking 'custom' and 'tradition'. The book shows how law and its interpretation is used to disenfranchise women, resulting in their being deprived of land and other property which they may have helped to accumulate. It also considers issues of violence within the home, reproductive rights and examines the issue of female genital cutting. The role of women in development is explored as is their participation in politics and the NGO sector. A major theme of the book is a consideration of the linkages of constitutional and international human rights norms with local values. This is done using feminist tools of analysis. The book considers the provisions of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women which was adopted by the African Union in July 2003.
This is a wide-ranging, thoughtful book from which I have learnt a lot. It joins a number of debates ongoing for a generation about law and its impact upon gender relations (for example, Smart, 1989)...Banda must be commended for putting together an excellent survey of ideas and a huge amount of data...a book of significance, and certainly one that should command a substantial student market. Michael Freeman International Journal of Law in Context Volume 4, Issue 01, March 2008 ...a treasury of information...This reference book deserves an accessible place at the bookshelf of teachers and students interested in women's' rights in Africa. Gerti Hesseling Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights Vol. 25/4 (2007) ...well researched and written in plain language. Experts and lay persons in the field of human rights would be able to easily grasp the issues she raises...recommended reading for anyone who is keen to learn more about or to reflect on women's rights in Africa. Martin Nsibirwa African Human Rights Law Journal 2006 This is a long and comprehensive book whose range defies effective reduction to a short review essay. I cannot hope to do justice to the detailed scholarship and commitment that created it. What I can do, however, if to give a sense of its richness that will, I hope, lure you to read it. Catherine Lane West-Newman, Department of Sociology, University of Auckland LPBR Feb 2006 ...an important repository of case law, international and regional instruments, and domestic constitutional provisions...Banda is to be congratulated for this meticulously researched, and very timely, comparative analysis of human rights law and practice in Africa. Patricia Tuitt The Times Higher Education Feb 2006 ...a wide-ranging examination of women and girls' human rights on the African continent...this is an appealing study. Kate Grady African Journal of International and Comparative Law Feb 06 As an introductory informative overview of the position of women in Africa and the extent to which law and human rights can improve that position, the book succeeds... Karin Van Marle Feminist Legal Studies Jan 06