Challenges Facing Women of Colour in the Legal Profession in South Africa

Mollica Dubey Maharaj

Rahman and Rahman Law, Gauteng, South Africa


In the late 1990s, the South African Department of Justice stated that the legal profession in South Africa needed to be transformed not only to cater to the legal needs of South Africans from all backgrounds, but also to ensure that the profession represents the diversity of South African society.

For example, last year, a group of senior women lawyers wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa expressing their outrage that no female advocates of colour were appointed to assist the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with state capture prosecutions. The appointment of male prosecutors was justified by the appointing authorities by the fact that those lawyers were well versed on the case. This highlighted the status of female lawyers of colour, revealing that they do not share the same access to opportunities as their male counterparts within the field.