Dropping the hammer on gender discrimination


Anne-Marie de Vos has always been a fighter. At one time the only female judge in the Pretoria High Court, she led from the front in standing up against gender discrimination. Her proudest moment as a legal professional came when she appeared in the Constitutional Court with her partner. De Vos succeeded in winning the legal right for the couple to be mothers to their two adopted daughters. After retiring as a judge De Vos and her family moved to Knysna, where she runs a free legal aid program for women and children alongside her private practice.

Her move to the idyllic Garden Route town was prompted by her desire to be closer to her partner and family. But De Vos also wanted to plug her legal skills into more grass-roots level scenarios. And that’s why she founded the Legal Centre for Women and Children, which aims to assist the marginalised with legal issues and further educate them about their rights.

“At first I tried to prove myself by out-manning men,” De Vos admits. She has long since left the battering-ram approach behind. Instead, she’s changing lives with legal savvy, education and love. But more importantly, she’s re-shaping the outlook that these young women have on life. Empowering others through the law, she urges women to see themselves as capable. To love themselves and to challenge the system. It’s a message aimed at creating a more progressive South Africa – one that embraces strong women.