Chieftainship Succession and Gender Equality in Lesotho: Negotiating the Right to Equality in a Jungle of Pluralism

By Juma, Laurence | Texas Journal of Women and the Law, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Chieftainship Succession and Gender Equality in Lesotho: Negotiating the Right to Equality in a Jungle of Pluralism


Juma, Laurence, Texas Journal of Women and the Law


Introduction 159

I. Background: Political Turmoil and the Survival of Pluralism 162

A. Political Upheavals and the Triumph of Traditionalism 164

?. Restoration of Democracy ................................................................... 167

II. Competing Laws on Equality ................................................................... 170

A. Constitutional Framework ................................................................... 172

1. Equality Before the Law and Equal Protection of the Law ................................................................... 174

2. Discrimination ................................................................... 176

?. Basotho Customary Law ................................................................... 179

1. Overview of Gender Relations ................................................................... 184

2. Marriage ................................................................... 186

3. Property ................................................................... 189

4. Inheritance ................................................................... 191

C. Legislative Trends ................................................................... 192

1. Political Participation ................................................................... 194

2. Marital Laws ................................................................... 198

III. Rules and Structures of Chieftainship Succession ................................................................... 199

A. The Changing Character of Chieftainship ................................................................... 200

1. Typology and the Dynamics of Change in Post-Independence Period ................................................................... 202

2. Debating the Status of Chiefs ................................................................... 205

B. Appointment of Chiefs: Effecting Pluralism ................................................................... 206

C. Women Chiefs: Past and Present ................................................................... 208

D. Constitutional Imperatives ................................................................... 211

1. Constitutional Hierarchy of Rights .................................................... 212

2. Justiciability and Double Entrenchment .................................................... 213

3. Amendment? .................................................... 214

Conclusion .................................................... 217

Introduction

Women constitute about 51% of Lesotho's population1 and enjoy a higher literacy rate than men.2 They are also the backbone of a society that for several hundreds of years provided male labor to South Africa's farms and gold mines.3 However, Basotho women are generally excluded from mainstream politics and are discriminated against in almost all spheres of socioeconomic life. This exclusion, marginalization, and discrimination have been largely blamed on patriarchy and entrenched traditional norms, both of which are sustained by a plural legal system that has seemingly remained insular to developments around the globe.4 Patriarchy denotes a system of social organization that privileges males and regards them as the protectors of society.5 Consequently, it justifies the subordination of females by males.6 In Lesotho, the patriarchal order is replicated in almost all forms of life and is embedded in "customs, culture and social patterns."7 Therefore, it has diminished the power of women to contribute effectively to the development of society. Indeed, some analysts have suggested that Lesotho has failed to realize its development potential because of its inability to eradicate gender inequality.8 Others assert that the exclusion of women from mainstream politics may be the reason for the deficit of democracy in the country. …

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Chieftainship Succession and Gender Equality in Lesotho: Negotiating the Right to Equality in a Jungle of Pluralism
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