Speech on the Debate on Commemoration of 100 years Anniversary on Admission of Women into Legal Profession
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP says more must be done to remove barriers preventing women from reaching their full potential

Jun 6, 2023

“Chairperson,

The ACDP welcomes this debate commemorating 100 years of women being admitted into the legal profession. We, too, honour those brave women who pioneered admission, as pointed out by earlier speakers, resulting in the Women Legal Practitioners Act 7 of 1923.

Although the percentage of female legal practitioners has increased compared to pre-1994 numbers, many, sadly, still do not have the same access to opportunities as their male counterparts.

It is disgraceful that female law professionals should be regarded as less competent or not suited for certain types of law on account of their gender. In addition, women of colour often face additional discrimination by virtue of their race, alongside that of gender. This is wrong.  It is regrettable that following many years of discrimination female advocates are not receiving sufficient briefs from attorneys.

In addition, female legal practitioners have stated that they face sexual harassment in the workplace.  The Constitutional Court in Mcgregor v Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council stated unambiguously that “Sexual harassment is the most heinous misconduct that plagues the workplace. Although prohibited under the labour laws of this country, it persists…. Not only is it demeaning to the victim, but it undermines their dignity, integrity and self-worth, striking at the root of the person’s being.”

The ACDP agrees and welcomes the Legal Practice Council’s Sexual Harassment Policy. We trust, however, that it is being properly implemented. Sadly, and understandably, complainants often want to remain anonymous which makes it difficult to investigate these matters. We call on all in the legal fraternity, and indeed in all sectors of society, to stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. It must not be tolerated.

There are many notable achievements of women in the judiciary, such as the appointments of Justice Betty Molemela to as President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, and deputy Chief Justice Maya at the Constitutional Court.

Justice Maya has said that “the presence of women in the judiciary, as elsewhere, profoundly impacts the imperatives of a diverse society. Their participation creates a public decision-making entity that is aware of and sensitive to the different positions, experiences and needs of many individuals representing varying socio-economic backgrounds in our communities. The contribution women jurists make to the county’s jurisprudence is distinctive and unquestionably exceptional.”

The ACDP agrees. Women judges bring different perspectives and experiences strengthening the judicial systems. Women’s representation in law enforcement and judicial institutions have also resulted in more effective and empathetic victim-centered responses to crime.

While we can thus commemorate 100 years of the admission of women into the legal profession, much still needs to be done to remove barriers that still exist in preventing them fulfilling their full potential.

I thank you.”

-ENDS-

ACDP decides to stay out of Government of National Unity

ACDP decides to stay out of Government of National Unity

Representatives of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leadership met with senior representatives of the ANC, on the night of 13 June 2014, where they offered us an opportunity to be part of Government of National Unity (GNU). The reasons positioned for the...

ACDP not party to group contesting IEC’s election results

ACDP not party to group contesting IEC’s election results

The ACDP notes with concern that a group of political parties, who contested the 2024 National and Provincial Elections (2024 NPE), have included our name as being party to their grouping that is contesting, inter alia, the IEC’s election results announcement on...

ACDP not party to group contesting IEC’s election results

Objections over voting and counting process to be raised with IEC

Since Voting Stations opened for Special Voting on Monday 27 May, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) have been inundated with queries, complaints and allegations about the voting and counting process, raised by our members, party agents, our supporters and...

Is this the best Electoral Reform Consultation Panel available?

Is this the best Electoral Reform Consultation Panel available?

Chairperson, The ACDP has taken note of this report and the names nominated, and whilst we do not wish to cast any aspersions on the IEC, it does raise the question as to why so many former and present IEC commissioners or staff have now been nominated, given the...