African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

When customary laws face civil society organisations: Gender issues in Botswana

Patrice Cailleba1* and Rekha A. Kumar2
1Groupe ESC Pau - Campus Universitaire, Saint John Perse - BP7512 - 64075 Pau, France. 2Faculty: Social Sciences, Department of Law, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 20 October 2010
  •  Published: 31 December 2010


In Botswana, society continues to operate under a dual legal system: an indigenously-based customary legal system, and received law, that is, the Constitution, based on a system inherited from the former colonial state. The fact that the constitution places prominence on custom within a range of contexts is particularly significant for women's rights. How far the Government is able to promote basic women's rights and to what extent customary law takes precedence over constitutional law are two legitimate questions yet to be clearly settled. This paper examines how customary law may be contrary to the basic human rights of women, by means of investigating the role of several civil society organizations that act to promote democracy and defend women's human rights. Moreover, the article assesses Botswana's current level of legislative compliance with international obligations, in seeking to identify priorities for working towards greater future compliance.


Key words: Botswana, gender, conflict, culture, civil society.