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10 Years of African Womens Rights Protocol


Despite less than ideal conditions for women in many African countries, the African continent does boast in international instrument to protect women’s rights. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women was passed ten years ago and  is commonly referred to as the Maputo Protocol.

The Maputo Protocol’s objective is to make it possible for women in Africa to participate equally in the political process, to obtain social and political equality, have control over their reproductive health, and put an end to misogynistic practices such as female genital mutilation. The protocol has been ratified by the forty-eight of the fifty-four member states of the African Union and has been in force since 2005.

Recently there has been an increased push from civil society organizations ensure that women actually enjoy the rights afforded to them by the protocol. These organizations have placed pressure on governments to sign and enforce the protocol guaranteeing their citizens the rights contained within the document. There are still 18 countries that have yet to ratify the Protocol.

This is, however, a hard battle to win. In order for African women to enjoy their freedoms, there are steep societal and cultural barriers and hurdles which must be overcome. The key to success is working to make sure the protocol acts as a tool for empowerment of women. In order to accomplish this, civil society organizations need to implement strategies ranging from national campaigns to grassroots approaches in order to mobilize support. Additionally, agents of the law need to work to enforce the protocol and hold violators responsible for their actions.

The Maputo Protocol is revolutionary and incredibly important for women in Africa. It exists to protect the human rights of women, a topic often overlooked by local governments in Africa. The protocol establishes vital rights in regards to women’s bodies, marital property, and land and labor. While the Maputo Protocol represents significant progress in the field of women’s rights and it should be celebrated, there is much more work to be done in the area of implementation.

– Caitlin Zusy
Sources: Reuters, No Peace Without Justice
Sources: IBI Times