By Susanna D. Wing (auth.)
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Additional info for Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies of Africa: Constitutionalism and Deliberation in Mali
41 In countries that have experienced recent political transitions, a better understanding of constitutionalism as the foundation of legitimate government is directly related to the ultimate success of new democracies. In Africa, the social dynamics of culturally plural societies must be considered seriously by constitutional thinkers. 43 Respect for the system of rules depends on constitutional literacy. ”44 Responsible government is derived not from a “body of rules,” but rather from the combination of these rules, how they are created, and how the polity understands them.
Despite the protection of women’s rights that was agreed to in Mali, the practices to which many are opposed still continue. This is the process of constitutionalism at work, over the years as women continue to fight for changes in interpretation of the law—or simply for a new inheritance law, awareness of the issues involved will spread. The resolution of the conflict will take place over time and any resolution will be achieved through dialogue. When rights in Africa are considered, rural life requires particular attention.
While the written constitution protects a woman’s rights, the cultural authority by which the majority of the people live conflicts with those rights. The constitution of 1992 was created through negotiation. Muslim authorities and the leaders of women’s groups negotiated with one another and agreed to the current constitutional structure; yet actual practice still conflicts with the compromise that was reached. I do not argue that all Muslim women would protest the tradition of widow inheritance.