Equality Now, SOAWR issue guide on use of African protocol on women’s rights

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - International human rights organisation Equality Now, in conjunction with Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), have released a Guide to Using the Protocol on the Rights to Women in Africa for Legal Action at local, national, and regional levels – five years after the Protocol came into force.

“We hope African lawyers and women’s rights advocates find the manual useful and it gives them hands-on guidance on how best to apply the remarkable standards of the Protocol in cases of violations of women’s rights,” Faiza Jama Mohamed, Nairobi Office director of Equality Now, said in a statement made available to PANA here Friday.

Equality Now, which works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world, convenes SOAWR, a coalition of 37 civil society organisations working to ensure that the Women’s Protocol is ratified and implemented across the African continent.

The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa is renowned for its strong and comprehensive provisions on women’s rights.

For the first time in international law, the Protocol explicitly sets forth the reproductive right of women to medical abortion when pregnancy results from rape or incest, or when the continuation of pregnancy endangers the health or life of the mother.  

The Protocol also explicitly calls for the legal prohibition of female genital mutilation (FGM), specifies 18 years as the minimum age for marriage and promotes equal representation of women in the judiciary and law enforcement as well as at all levels of decision-making.

“It is amazing how social justice activists have raised awareness about the Protocol and advocated for African governments to embrace its standards, as a result 31 countries have thus far ratified it,” said Jane Serwanga of FIDA Kenya, a member of SOAWR.

“But we now feel the need to strengthen civil society’s capacity to ensure implementation which is why we have produced the manual,” she added.

The Guide explains how to bring women’s rights abuses that violate the Protocol before domestic courts and regional justice mechanisms like the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and analyses key cases related to women’s rights decided by the African Commission.

It also provides activists with more general strategies for the popularisation and domestication of the Protocol to protect the rights of African women and girls and ensure they have complete access to justice.  

Equality Now has released the manual in English, saying it is in the process of being translated into Arabic, French, and Portuguese.

Equality Now’s Women’s Action Network comprises 35,000 groups and individual members in over 160 countries.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 15July2011

15 july 2011 07:28:52


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