FEDUSA Demands for Gender Parity in the Judiciary

20 November 2018


The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) demands that all the 11 vacancies in the judiciary must be filled with women judges, when the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews judges, said Dr Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary.

Consequently the slow pace of gender transformation in the judiciary resulted in a dismal rate of only 24 female appointments during 2009 to 2012, when the JSC interviewed a total of 211 candidates for 110 positions, according to the Commission for Gender Equality.

The Constitutional Court has two vacancies, the Supreme Court of Appeal has five vacancies, the Election Court has one vacancy, and the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court has one vacancy, while the Labour Court has one vacancy for Deputy Judge President and the Northern Cape Division of the High Court has also one vacancy for Deputy Judge President. The interviews for these vacancies will be held from 1 to 5 April 2019.

According to the Law Society of South Africa there are more women graduating or practising as attorneys at the end of 2012, while the statistics of the General Bar Council paints a different picture of transformation that the country has only 561 female practising advocates out of 2 384. The Gender representation in the judiciary of permanent judges in 31 March 2017 show 35% women judges in comparison to 65% male judges.

The demographic classification of permanent judges in South Africa:

South African Judges Number of Judges
African Male Judges 73
African Women Judges 41
Coloured Male Judges 15
Coloured Women Judges 11
Indian Male Judges 13
Indian Women Judges 9
White Male Judges 58
White Women Judges 26

FEDUSA calls for flexible working hours, including gender sensitive policies such as paternity and maternity leave for the judiciary. Gender parity is important as a statistical measure that provides a numerical value of the men-to-women ratio, and therefore specific quotas should be introduced to ensure gender equality in the judiciary.  Moreover, it is also critical to note that the leadership positions in the judiciary are also dominated by men and this makes succession planning for empowering women extremely difficult, concluded George.

Lack of equitable representation does not bode well for the future sustainable economic growth of the country due to continued lack of inclusivity and representativity of the demographic population distribution in the workplace in terms of population groups, gender and disability.

This is emphasised by the Commission for Employment Equity in their 2017 – 2018 Annual Report, which highlights an insignificant increase of females from 2015 – 2017 at Senior Management levels, which can be equated to the Judiciary likewise.

FEDUSA is of the opinion that the pace of gender transformation could be accelerated if mentorship programmes could be introduced, more acting opportunities are provided for women acting judges, and a national summit should be convened to propel gender parity in the judiciary suggested George.


(395 Words)

FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.

For interviews please contact:

Dr Dennis George FEDUSA General Secretary 084 805 1529

Issued by:

Frank Nxumalo FEDUSA Research and Media Officer 072 637 8096