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For consideration of normative hybridisation in access to land (examples from African lands)





John Griffiths, one of the pioneers in the conceptualisation of ‘legal pluralism’ states that there is legal pluralism ‘when in a social field, more than one source of law, more than one legal order is observable’ (1986). Helen Quane explains that, fundamentally, ‘legal pluralism refers to the legislative coexistence, de jure or de facto, of different legal systems within the same geographical and temporal area’. (2003) Let us say, more simply, that legal pluralism exists in a given society as soon as several sources of law apply, whether in competition with each other or complementary to each other, whether such coexistence is de jure or merely de facto. Research associated with legal pluralism often comes back to a major challenge. Its compatibility with human rights (G. Corradi, 2014; Y. Sezgin, 2010; S. Farran, 2006), women in particular. For example, in some pluralistic legal systems, while constitutions and written law in general seek to guarantee men and women the same rights, while legal provisions specify that customary norms can only be applied to the extent that they are not contrary to the Constitution and written law, these customary norms continue to be applied in practice by traditional, religious and community institutions, and to govern large parts of social life. However, customary norms often tend to place women at a disadvantage in many areas: property rights (access to land, inheritance in general) and family rights (right of marriage and divorce, effects of marriage and divorce on the person of (ex) spouses and children, etc.). The issue of legal pluralism extends beyond the legal sphere to other areas such as anthropology, sociology, philosophy, theology, etc. It is in the name of this pluralism that some societies admit or tolerate polygamy, the excision of girls, the sex purification rites of the widow, and the sex rites of allegiance to gourou (sex affiliation rites), all of which call for a multidisciplinary approach, integrating a gender perspective. This day of reflection is intended to be a forum for exchange on the relationship between legal pluralism and gender. Participants will be invited to discuss the potential and limitations associated with legal gender pluralism. In other words, is gender compatible with legal pluralism? Are women able to enjoy and exercise their rights equally to men in societies characterised by legal pluralism? This space for dialogue between academics, researchers, human rights activists and members of NGOs will be marked both by the diversity of knowledge and by the multidisciplinarity of the approaches proposed to understand and integrate the gender dimension in the analysis of legal pluralism. Exchanges should lead to a better understanding of the obstacles of legal pluralism to equality between women and men and to the identification of avenues for resolving conflicts of norms, favourable to women’s rights, given their cultural roots.

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