June 16, 2010 Women Judges in Post-Apartheid South Africa Subject of Film To Be Shown by Law Library of Congress on June 23

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Leon Scioscia (202) 707-1496

Sixteen years after the defeat of apartheid in South Africa’s general election of 1994, the country’s fledgling democracy is acclaimed for its constitutional promise of comprehensive human rights and unprecedented judicial reform. Yet women make up only 18 percent of South Africa’s male-dominated judiciary.

“Courting Justice” (Luna films, 2008, 54 minutes), an award-winning film that highlights the lives of women judges in South Africa, will be presented by the Law Library of Congress at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC.

The event is free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required. Please call 202-707-9834 or e-mail bmoo@loc.gov.

The program will open with comments by Hanibal Goitom, a Law Library of Congress foreign law specialist whose expertise includes South Africa. After the screening, the film’s creator, Ruth B. Cowan will discuss the film and answer questions.

“I had come to know, and to respect, many South African women judges,” said Cowan. “I wanted to use the power of film so that people in South Africa and throughout the world could meet these world-class jurists, and know of their dedication to advancing South Africa’s transformation to a human-rights-based constitutional democracy. It is the post-apartheid constitution which provides the context for “Courting Justice.”

“We are delighted to present this film at the Library of Congress,” said Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer. “Upon its conclusion you feel as if you have shared these pioneering women’s stories of hope, equality, justice and transformation.”

Cowan is a political scientist focusing on the rule of law in the new democracy of South Africa. Her articles have appeared in U.S. and South African law journals and are the basis of her presentations at law conferences in the United States, South Africa and Canada. She is the founding president of Pro Mujer, a microfinance organization that lends funds to low-income women in five Latin American countries. She has served as chair of the New York City Commission on the Status of Women during two mayoral administrations. A senior fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Cowan holds degrees from Cornell University, the University of Illinois and New York University and a certificate in management from Harvard University.

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PR 10-149
ISSN 0731-3527