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Women's Legal Centre - 20th Anniversary Celebrations

Categories: HEADLINES, Women Empowerment
The Women’s Legal Centre is an African feminist legal centre that advances women’s rights and equality through strategic litigation, advocacy and partnerships. We aim to defend and protect the rights of vulnerable and marginalized women -in particular, black women- and to promote their access to justice and equitable resources.

We seek to advance women’s freedom from violence, improve substantive equality, and advocate for agency in all aspects of their lives - at home, at work, in the community, and within society at large.

The Women’s Legal Centre celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year, under the theme “Activism in Feminist Lawyering.” Over the last 20 years, we have worked on important precedent setting cases to improve the lives of women, their access to justice, and their quality of living, with the objective of achieving substantive equality. Since the WLC was founded, many things have changed, and far too many things have stayed the same for women in South Africa. The challenges have not disappeared, but rather they change shape.

The Centre underwent some significant changes to bring us to the place we currently hold in the public interest law sector. In 2017, the WLC undertook a strategic review process. As a result of this, we identified new focus areas for each programme, and have since positioned ourselves as an unapologetic African feminist litigation centre.

Over the last 20 years of litigating and advocating for women’s rights in South Africa, much of this work has been infused with, and accompanied by, activism. We have chosen the theme “Activism in Feminist Lawyering” because of the often-unfounded idea that law and activism are mutually exclusive, and that lawyers cannot be activists at the same time. However, in reality, when conducting work in the public interest sector, the two are not always mutually exclusive. Much of the work that lawyers in the public interest sector do is a form of activism in itself, in the spirit of the advancement of social justice through the law. We ask the question, “What is activism”? “What does activism in feminist lawyering look like”? “What has it looked like for the past 20 years at the Women’s Legal Centre”? In light of the celebration of our 20th anniversary, we aim to explore this, test this, and highlight and broaden discussion on what “Activism in Feminist Lawyering” means.


The 20th anniversary thus aims to celebrate what the Women’s Legal Centre is – an unapologetic African Feminist Litigation Centre. We aim to celebrate the milestones we have achieved in the last 20 years, and the positive impact which it is has had on women’s lives. We aim to celebrate the women that we litigate for, feminist litigation, and the spirit and ethos of our work.


We have decided to do this in five different ways:

1. A 20th anniversary publication - The objective of the publication is to capture the spirit of the Women’s Legal Centre in a lasting and communicable form, to celebrate the groundbreaking work done over the past 20 years, to explore and highlight the importance and impact of feminist litigation in South Africa, and to celebrate the women which the centre exists for. The publication will include academic articles, opinion pieces, highlights, pictures, messages of support, artwork, and more.

2. Feminist Colloquium – on the 22 August, from 10:00 to 16:00, we will host a Feminist
Colloquium. This will be a space to critically reflect on feminist litigation and "Activism in Feminist Laywering".  The colloquium will be an academic and reflective gathering on chosen programme areas relating to and including the theme of the 20th anniversary, namely land, and sexual & reproductive health rights. We will host three 1.5-hour sessions during the day, in the form of panel discussions or round-tables, with a range of voices from academics and former clients, to fellow feminist litigators and activists taking part in discussions. This will be open to the public to register to attend the sessions.

3. 20th Anniversary Evening Celebration – on the evening of the 22nd of August, we will host a more festive, social, semi-formal cocktail event with food and drinks. This will not be open to the public, but we will celebrate with and honour those who have stood alongside the Women’s Legal Centre in the last 20 years. There will be a short formal program including a key note speaker, an address from the Director of the WLC, and a few live performances of poetry and music.

4.Media and artwork: There will be an exhibition running throughout the events of the 22nd of August, which highlights the work of the last 20 years, as well as an exciting project around feminist litigation, which we will not yet reveal. We will also put together a short video
reflecting on the milestones of the last 20 years.

5. Apparel and branding – we have specialized our logo for the 20th anniversary, and will be selling and sharing a few t-shirts, bags and badges with purposeful messaging in celebration of the 20th anniversary. The apparel branding is aimed toward the promotion of the work of the WLC and what we advocate for.

We at the WLC are excited for our celebrations to kick off in July and August. We hope that others will join us in celebrating this momentous milestone and set the standard for next 20 years to come.

For further information, contact aisha@wlce.co.za or call 021 424 5660.

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