Masters and PhD programme for capacity building in law faculties: Engendering human rights and law in Southern and Eastern Africa

Mainstreaming gender, non-discrimination, human rights and socio-economic rights into the application and administration of the law.

Project title: Masters, PhD and Research programme for Capacity building in Law faculties in Southern and Eastern Africa.


Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya are countries facing major challenges of reforming laws to conform to new constitutions that guarantee expanded rights of gender equality.

The national constitutions in these countries mandate gender equality, but law reform, implementation of laws and especially teaching of law beyond specific women and law courses, remains at best gender neutral and unresponsive to sex and gender analysis. Knowledge about gender issues has typically been confined to women’s law as a separate discipline at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Thus there is a crucial need to mainstream knowledge about gender, non-discrimination, human rights and socio-economic rights into national legal education to have a broader impact on national law reform, policy formation and legal service delivery in the region.

Strengthened research and teaching capacity in Women’s Law

The project targets capacity building at four universities in Southern and Eastern Africa with assistance from the University of Oslo in teaching, curriculum revisions, supervision of master and PhD candidates and research.

Academic staff at the partner institutions will strengthen their research and teaching capacity to be able to integrate the right to gender equality, non-discrimination and relevant social and economic rights into courses taught and research produced.

Programmes and courses at both undergraduate and post-graduate level will be strengthened with new literature produced through joint research between north-south and south-south partners.

Building on 25 years of cooperation

From 1993 to 2012, Norway has supported the Masters in Women’s Law programme at the Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law (SEARCWL) with approximately NOK 67 million. More than 200 students have graduates from countries throughout the region.

Staff and graduates have helped to write Zimbabwe’s legislation against violence against women. They have also contributed to a change in the law of inheritance and succession that gives women equal rights.

Students from Zambia’s police force are behind official guidelines for the investigation of violence against women and they have provided training on this subject.

In addition to individual capacity strengthening of university staff, the NORHED project will include capacity development at the institutional level, including system strengthening and infrastructure development, to build strong and sustainable academic institutions. 

Key goals and achievements

Overall goal

Increased respect, promotion and protection of gender equality, non-discrimination and socio-economic rights in LMIC countries. Law school graduates from LMIC institutions will have the capacity to apply these standards in their professional work in legal institutions, such as courts, law reform bodies, law firms and legal NGOs.

The objectives of the project are

  1. Law school/faculty curricula at LMIC partner universities at all levels reformed with human rights, socio-economic rights, non-discrimination, equality and gender as core elements.
  2. Academic staff at LMIC partner institutions with strengthened academic, research and teaching capacity able to engage with high levels of legal and academic skills in the international arena with special emphasis on gender equality, non-discrimination and relevant socio-economic rights.
  3. Specially recruited masters’ students from groups experiencing discrimination on multiple grounds, such as the intersections of gender, ethnicity or disability participated equally with other master students at SEARCWL.
  4. Knowledge transfer between South-South and South-North institutions.
  5. ICT equipment available, and policies and systems developed to ensure sustainable capacity to educate and research at LMIC partner law schools/faculties.
  6. Administrative and financial systems improved and developed to meet academic, teaching and research requirements.
Published 24.06.2013
Last updated 16.02.2015

Total budget

2014-2018: 18 million NOK

Contact persons for the project