CAPE TOWN: 01 August 2022

The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) launched an intensive three-week training programme for law students from different universities across South Africa on Monday, 04 July 2022. The WLC Feminist Academy programme, believed to be the first of its kind in South Africa, received over 200 applications from female students across South Africa, with 15 students successfully joining the Academy.

“We recognised the gap in feminist training within both the education system and within the legal profession. The gap found in litigation pertains to women’s rights and equality, but it misses a specific gender and feminist lens, and, as a result, we continue to create law and policy that provides for formal equality. This is equality on paper only but does not change the lived reality for women, in particular women of colour in South Africa. This style of litigation and policy also fails to recognise that women suffer discrimination based on their different intersecting identities,” said Seehaam Samaai, WLC Director.

The selection criteria for the WLC Feminist Academy focused on future female litigators with an interest in community service or the public interest/social justice sector. An important criterion was that the law students recognised the importance of the women’s rights sector and had a passion for feminism. The successful students represented 10 of the 16 universities in South Africa.

Samaai added “We seek to use our WLC Feminist Academy as a space where young future female litigants will be exposed to the realities women face and will be introduced to this specialised and necessary way in which we tackle social issues and use litigation, advocacy, and education to bring about substantive equality for women.”

“The current WLC board recognised the important role feminist education and training plays in advancing the rights of women and, most importantly, in building a society grounded in feminist values. It was through this recognition that we decided to invest in training young feminist litigators and why we will continue to invest in similar initiatives that seek to educate and train more women to advance the rights of women within their own diverse and intersectional positions in their communities,” said Thulisile Mhlungu, WLC Board Chairperson.

The WLC Feminist Academy followed a hybrid format, with 7 of the students attending in person in the WLC’s Cape Town office and 8 students in attendance online. At the conclusion of the programme, students presented their community project proposals which sees them actively participate within their community. At the completion of this project, with ongoing support from the WLC, students will have concluded their training within the WLC Feminist Academy programme and will continue to access support from the WLC and its network through an alumni programme.

About the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC)

The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) is an African feminist legal centre that advances women’s rights and equality through strategic litigation, advocacy, education, and training.

The WLC has five programmatic areas: The Right to Land, Housing, and Property, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, The Right to be Free from Violence, Equality in Relationships, and The Right to Favourable & Just Working Conditions.

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