Tabeth Masengu


Ms Tabeth Masengu is a PhD Research Fellow. She graduated from Rhodes University in South Africa with an LLB (Cum laude) in 2006 and was later admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 2010 after completing her articles of clerkship and Board exams. She later obtained an LLM in Human Rights Law (Cum laude) from The London School of Economics and Political Science in 2011.

Tabeth is currently a Senior Researcher at the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Her areas of expertise are women in the judiciary and the legal profession and women’s rights and constitutionalism. Tabeth pioneered and leads the gender arm of the judicial governance work that DGRU focuses on, and has since gone on to publish and speak at numerous events.

She is currently doing a joint doctorate programme between the University of Ghent and the University of Cape Town and is a recipient of the Special Research Fund for joint doctorates scholarship from Ghent for a period of 12 months. Her PhD research examines the informal and formal aspects that inform the equal representation of men and women on the judicial bench.

Tabeth is the Co-Convenor of the Women, Equality and Constitutionalism group of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers and was previously the Southern African Correspondent for the Oxford University Human Rights Hub. She has conducted judicial training for judges in Tanzania on behalf of Equality Now a Kenyan based NGO and is an annual speaker at the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges AGM. Her academic publications include women’s rights and the Zambian constitutional process, customary law inheritance in Botswana and gender and the judiciary and women in the legal profession in South Africa.




POSITION PhD research fellow

EMAIL Tabeth.Masengu[@] / tabeth.masengu[@]

TELEPHONE +27 72386 0546/+27 21 650 2456

HRC SECRETARIAT +32 (0)9 264 69 11

POSTAL ADDRESS Department of Public Law, Univeristy of Cape Town, DGRU, Kramer Law Building ; Stanley Road, Rondebosch, 7700, Cape Town, SA


Current Selection

  • Faculty Member and Researcher ; University of Cape Town, Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (2012-present)
  • Consultant; AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (Nov –Dec 2011)
  • Project Manager (previously Researcher); Treatment Action Campaign (2009-2011)
  • Candidate Attorney; Tomlinson Mnguni James Attorneys (2007-2009)


University Degrees

  • LLM in Human Rights (Cum Laude) The London School of Economics Political Science
  • * LLB (Cum Laude) Rhodes University ,South Africa


Courses taught

  • Spring 2015: Law and the Humanities, University of Ghent, Law Faculty
  • Spring 2014: Law and the Humanities, University of Roma Tre, Law Faculty, together with Prof. Dr. Emanuele Conte and Dr. Stefania Gialdroni
  • Since Fall 2013: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives on the Paradigm of Human Rights, Arcadia University, The College of Global Studies (Rome) in collaboration with the University of Roma Tre
  • Since fall 2009: History and Institutions of the European Union, LL.M. Programme in European Law and Policies

Seminars taught and organized

  • Spring 2015 (April-May): Testo e rappresentazione: linguaggi del diritto (Text and representation: languages of the law), 20 hours, LL.M. programme in “Droit et normativités comparées” (Roma Tre, Law School, EHESS and Sorbonne, Paris)
  • Since January 2013 – ongoing: (every third week): Interdisciplinary doctoral and post-doctoral seminar (legal philosophy, private law, legal history), University Rome III, Law School
  • Since 01/11 – ongoing: Roadmaps for Research, seminar on political philosophy, private law and legal theory, University Rome III, Law School


Joint PhD fellowship 2017-2018 at Ghent University


  • Project Head on the Womens Pioneer Programme sponsored by the Norwegian Government.
  • Co-Convenor of the Working Group on Women, Equality and the Constitution of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL).
  • Facilitator of the Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights workshop on Judicial Appointments hosted in Harare, June 2016.
  • Facilitator of the Tanzanian Judges Training hosted by Equality Now, October 2015 in Bagamayo.
  • Associate Editor of the ‘Women and Constitutionalism in Africa: Gendered Participation in Process, Content and Application’ submitted for review, 2015.
  • Facilitator at the Open Society Foundation discussion on the 2015 State of the Nation Address -13th of February 2015.
  • Speaker at the SA Chapter of the Association of Women Judges Annual Meeting-August 2013 -2016.
  • Facilitator at the Customary Law Symposium on the Application of Customary Law in the South African Legal Setting from a Women’s Rights Perspective”, 22nd and 23rd of August 2013.


  • Legal Philosophy
  • Theory of Human Rights


Peer-Reviewed Academic Material

  • Tabeth Masengu: ‘Standing on the Sidelines clapping; Women and Zambia’s Constitutional Process’ in Jaap de Visser and Nico Stelyer (eds) Constitution Building in Africa (2015) 48.
  • Tabeth Masengu: ‘A Perspective on Women and Leadership in the South African Judiciary’ (2015) 3 South African Journal of Human Rights 655.
  • Tabeth Masengu: It’s A Man’s World: Barriers to Gender Transformation in the South African Judiciary. Perspectives From Women Advocates and Attorneys (2016) International Journal of the Legal Profession.
  • Tabeth Masengu: ‘Gender Transformation as a means of enhancing perceptions of impartiality on the bench’ forthcoming in the South African Law Journal (2016) 133, 3 South African Law Journal 479-490.
  • Tabeth Masengu: ‘Customary Law Inheritance: Lessons Learnt from Ramantele v Mmusi and Others’ (2016) 24, 4 African Journal on international and Comparative Law 582-603.

Professional Journals

  • Tabeth Masengu and Alison Tiley: ‘Is the appointment of Acting Judges Transparent?’ in De Rebus the SA Attorneys Journal 2014.

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