In this action brought by a transgender student against the National Service of Education (SENA), the Constitutional Court defended the right to education and the free development of the person by ordering that the student be allowed to wear a male uniform, that he be treated in accordance with his identity as a transgender man, and that the SENA implement a plan that promotes the respect and free development of the person, particularly regarding expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation.
This case involves the interpretation of the scope of the constitutional right in South Africa to basic education and in particular whether the provision of school textbooks to all basic education learners for the whole academic year is an essential component of this right.
This paper firstly sets out the legal and political frameworks on gender equality in education to which states have committed and then describes how they have committed.
In the second section, the content of states’ commitments to achieve gender equality in education is explained, including the normative content of relevant provisions found in international and regional human rights treaties and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This section also includes a classification of states according to what legal commitments to women and girls’ right to education they have made.
The final section details how states can be held accountable for failure to meet their legal commitments to gender equality in education, including what mechanisms are available and examples of how these mechanisms have been used to hold states accountable.