The effects of the historical exclusion of African women from positions of leadership as well as the public/private dichotomy have led to a phenomenon in which women are underrepresented in decision-making bodies. The judiciary is one of such bodies. The purpose of the research is to study the impact of women’s representation on decisions of the African Union’s human rights bodies, that is, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In determining the implications of gender on decisions adopted by the African Union’s human rights bodies, the dissertation adopts a qualitative research methodology as well as a desk review of the existing literature surrounding feminist judging. The dissertation adopts a critical analysis of selected cases before the African Union’s human rights bodies to assess the impact of inclusion of more women. The cases selected are those focused on gross violations of women’s rights on the continent.
Key research findings of the study reveal that with the inclusion of women, there is progression of the African Union’s human rights bodies towards becoming more gender-specific, through their processes, reasoning, recommendations and framing of the language around the gross violations of women’s rights.
Implications of these findings is that the African Union’s human rights is that the inclusion of women is not only beneficial to female victims but to every complaint before any of the African Union human rights bodies. The findings also highlight the importance of integration of women into decision-making bodies and how such integration and substantive representation influences institutional outcomes.