Vance Center Mentorship Program Participants Lead Community Legal Information Clinic in South Africa
In support of women of color in the legal profession in South Africa, four mentees from the Vance Center’s Advancing Women in the Workplace mentorship program led a legal information clinic for more than 45 community members in Atteridgeville.
AWW mentees at the legal information clinic in Atteridgeville, South Africa. (Photo credit: Kim Lamont)
In support of women of color in the legal profession in South Africa, four mentees from the Vance Center’s Advancing Women in the Workplace mentorship program led a community legal information clinic in Atteridgeville, a township in West Pretoria. The clinic provided information to more than 45 community members on topics selected from consultations with the community, including the legal frameworks of marriage regimes, the rights afforded within those specific regimes, and the process of dissolving the estates of deceased partners.
The AWW mentees are young women of color, many from low-income and marginalized communities, and are eager to offer leadership and support within their law firms, as well as to the communities they come from. This clinic offered an additional opportunity for the program participants to take on a leadership role, as the event was proposed after some mentees identified the challenges and lack of information available to women in their communities on topics directly affecting their daily lives and expressed a desire to provide that information and legal support.
The Councilor of the Atteridgeville Municipality, Cllr EN Masuku, opened the event by welcoming the group and commended the Vance Center and the AWW project for the initiative. Mentees then led a discussion on South Africa’s legal frameworks for marriage systems and specifically liquidating and dissolving an estate after the death of a partner, and answered specific questions from community members regarding various marriages and how they affect the distribution of the estate. The conversation was held in both Sotho and Tswana, the local dialect of the community in Atteridgeville, to ensure that all participants were able to join the discussion and understand the information being shared.
The AWW Project, now in its second year, is a two-year project of the Vance Center and its South African Legal Fellows Alumni Network, with support from the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, that aims to address the gender gap in legal leadership positions in South Africa through mentorship, a gender diversity and inclusion survey, and other activities.