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Refereed articles

An overview of South Africa’s institutional framework in promoting women’s right to development – pg. 46.

The article provides a brief overview of the Chap 9 institutions with particular reference to the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality as established in terms of South Africa’s 1996 Constitution in the quest to promote women’s right to development. The focus on these institutions is motivated by the broader mandate that is bestowed on the SAHRC for the promotion of human rights and the CGE’s specific one for gender equality. The objective is to harness the inter-relationship of the right to development with other fundamental human rights entrenched in the Constitution – which are essential for the advancement of women’s rights. These institutions are designed to strengthen the constitutional democracy which is essential for the promotion of women’s right to development. Hence this article argues that the two institutions should sharpen their constitutionally protected responsibility by localising the level of awareness of the right to development as a human rights issue that will ensure the advancement of other protected rights in the Bill of Rights. The emphasis on women is also motivated by their vulnerable status, as opposed to that of men, because they are subject to many socio-political, cultural and legal ills that compromise their worth to development. The existence of an institutional and legislative framework that is designed to transform the country based on its foundational principles of non-sexism and non-racialism, has not as yet transmitted to the implementation of women’s right to development in a more meaningful way which would ensure the full realisation of their development. Various studies have been conducted to highlight the plight of women and this article is not meant to reproduce the information that is already in the public domain except to indicate how the two institutions can forge tools towards the realisation of women’s right to development. Against this background, this article starts by providing the conceptual framework of the right to development in international human rights law. The section identifies the robust debates around the concept of the “right to development” and then justifies the importance of the right to development in the general framework of the rights. The second part focuses on the constitutional strength of the two institutions and provides recommendations on how they can fulfil their mandates in a way that befits the general populace of the Republic.

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