In a landmark ruling Botswana's High Court on Friday gave women inheritance rights for the first time, up-ending a male-dominated system that had prevailed in the thriving African nation.
Announcing the ruling, Justice Key Dingake said, "It seems to me that the time has now arisen for the justices of this court to assume the role of the judicial midwife and assist in the birth of a new world struggling to be born."
The court ruled that a tribal law, giving the youngest-born son rights to inherit the family home was not in line with the country's constitution, which guarantees gender equality.
The court had been hearing a case brought by three sisters aged over 65, whose claim to family property was being challenged by their nephew.
"This is a significant step forward for women's rights not only in Botswana but in the southern Africa region, where many countries are addressing similar discriminatory laws," said Priti Patel of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.© ANP/AFP