Journal of African Law

Research Article

Culture and the Human Rights of Women in Africa: Between Light and Shadow

Manisuli Ssenyonjoa1

a1 Lecturer in law, School of Law, Brunel University, West London.


Despite the ratification by African states of several human rights instruments protecting the human rights of women in Africa, and the solemn commitment of the African states to eliminate all forms of discrimination and harmful practices against women, women in Africa still continue to experience human rights violations. Most African women are denied the equal enjoyment of their human rights, in particular by virtue of the lesser status ascribed to them by tradition and custom, or as a result of overt or covert discrimination. Many women in Africa experience distinct forms of discrimination due to the intersection of sex with such factors as race, language, religion, political and other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other factors, such as age, disability, marital, refugee or migrant status, resulting in compounded disadvantage. Therefore, much remains to be done to realize the human rights of women in Africa. This article examines the relationship between culture and women's human rights, and makes some recommendations for the effective realization of these rights.