A landmark ruling on 12 October by Gaborone’s High Court found that gender discrimination based on Botswana’s customary law is unconstitutional.
The court ruled on a case brought by three sisters, all over 65 years old, challenging a Ngwaketse customary law that holds the right of inheritance to the family home belongs to the youngest son.
“Critically, the judge made it clear that discrimination cannot be justified on cultural grounds before rejecting out of hand the argument put forward by the Attorney General that Botswana society was not ready for [gender] equality,” Priti Patel, deputy director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), said in a statement. SALC supported the sisters’ case.
“[The ruling] sends a very strong signal that women in Botswana cannot be discriminated against and that the days of women suffering from secondary status under the law in Botswana are drawing to an end,” she said.