The situation of women in South Africa calls for special examination. Although South Africa, which became indepedent in 1926, is geographically part of Africa with a black population exceeding 25 million, it also has a white population of nearly five million. Many of those whites, whose forebears landed in 1652, look upon themselves, with considerable geographic and historic justification, as a permanent part of Africa, 1 its only white tribe. The country's legal structure is that of a Western nation. More British than almost any other state in Africa, and with its Dutch roots expressed in criminal law which is largely Roman-Dutch, South Africa nonetheless also provides for customary, tribal (traditional) or so-called Bantu Law. Even the economy is marked by duality. Part of the economic structure is Western ( South Africa is one of the 26 industrialized nations of the world) and part is a typical African subsistence economy. 2
Because of three centuries of cultural, educational, social and residential segregation from the black community, most white women in South Africa find themselves in a Western society, with Western norms no different from those of most other Western states, which include discrimination against women. The average white female office worker in Johannesburg faces problems of discrimination no different from those of the average female office worker in the United States or Australia.
Black women, on the other hand, are much worse off, first of all because they are black and therefore have less political freedom, fewer economic opportunities and greater social obstacles to overcome; second, because they are black women, victims of a family and tribal structure which relegates them to an inferior position, subservient to the husband or family; and, third, because they are women. (Much the same can be said of Asian women in South Africa and, to a lesser extent, colored women, women of mixed racial descent.) Despite these handicaps, the facts show that except for the right to vote, a right no longer denied to Asian, Indian, or colored women--only to blacks--these women are better off than women in any other state in Africa in terms of education, particularly university and technical education, in freedom to elect the subjects they wish to study, in job seeking, in employment in general (employment for black women in South Africa has increased rapidly as opposed to a decline elsewhere in Africa), in professional occupations such as medicine, management and teaching, in business organizations and business undertakings, in income, in terms of equal salaries, in terms of mobility and land and home ownership.
The laws protecting white and black women from discrimination in South