The Nordic Africa Institute


Engendering Access to Justice for Development in Sub Saharan Africa

pupils in school

Al Fashir, Shamal Darfor, Sudan, March 2013. International Women’s Day. Photo: Albert González Farran, UNAMID

Time • 28 Oct 2019 - 29 Oct 2019
Place • University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
The deadline for abstracts/papers was 30 Apr 2019

Over a billion people globally, many in Sub Saharan Africa, lack some form of access to justice to enforce basic rights in an effort to eliminate deprivations and improve well-being. The term ‘access to justice’ is a broad term, but is generally accepted as referring to the institutions, procedural rules, and substantive laws that empower individuals to pursue and obtain justice. Access to justice is a fundamental right guaranteed under a wide body of international, regional, domestic and customary laws that is an enabler of other rights and an essential component of policy and programs aimed achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and improvements in well-being.

The conference is arranged by the Nordic Africa Institute in cooperation with University of Western Cape, Comillas Pontifical University and Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.

The impact of not being able to seek or obtain justice goes beyond merely a rights deprivation. This form of disempowerment can commonly be gendered and is correlated with causing and perpetuating a chronic state of poverty and marginalization. The poorest are less likely to enforce rights, such as access to schools and clean water, or seek assistance with gender-based violence, further intensifying their poverty and perpetuating gender inequality.

In Sub Saharan Africa, where nearly half the population remains chronically poor, much of the population is deprived of access to justice, which is complicated by factors such as geographic distances, societal mores and ineffective institutions. Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by this deprivation, leading to a greater likelihood of poverty, asset deprivation and increases in violations against basic human rights.

Building on the forthcoming book “Gender, Poverty and Access to Justice: Policy Implementation in Sub-Saharan Africa” (Routledge), University of the Western Cape, University de Comillas (Madrid), University of Manchester and Nordic Africa Institute (Uppsala) are convening a conference on October 28th and 29th, 2019 to analyze the intersection of gendered access to justice, poverty and disempowerment across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and provide field-based research and discussions on what does and does not work to improve justice for women and girls in the region.
The organizing committee hopes to attract a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary participants, including policy makers and development practitioners, as well as representatives from local and international civil society organizations, the private sector, academia and the general public - to name a few.

The conference will take place at The Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. A carefully selected collection of multi-disciplinary papers from the conference will form the foundation of an edited book and/or journal focusing on Engendering Access to Justice for Developing in SSA.

We are delighted to confirm several high level key note speakers:

Dr Ngone Diop, Senior Gender Advisor, Africa Centre for Gender. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Dr Paloma Duran y Lalaguna, Head of Division, Global Partnerships & Policies Division Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD), OECD, Paris (former Director of SDG Fund, UN).
Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, Professor of Law, University of Western Cape. Professor of Children's Rights in the Developing World, University of Leiden (formerly Vice Chair Member African committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child)

We invite submissions of extended abstracts (minimum 3 pages), or full papers, in one of the 5 cross disciplinary thematic areas of policy intervention and programme design articulated below. Abstracts should be submitted by 30 April 2019 to Successful authors will be notified by 30 May 2019, and will be expected to submit full papers by 30 September 2019.

There is no conference fee.

Please send abstracts to along with a one paragraph bio. The workshop will be structured around the following 5 key areas:

Integrating Justice Programming into the SDG’s.
Women, Children and Access to Justice for Sustainable Development.
Informal Institutions, Rights and Laws in Sub Saharan Africa
Policies and Practices for Engendering Economic Empowerment and Justice for Poverty Reduction
Gender, Poverty and Justice Policies in Sub Saharan Africa: Lessons from the Field? What Can We Learn?