UN: UN, AU launch report on women's struggle for human rights in Africa

New York, US (PANA) - UN human rights office on Tuesday launched a joint report with the African Union (AU) and UN Women detailing the progress and challenges to women’s struggle for human rights in Africa.

The joint report was launched ahead of International Women’s Day, marked annually on 8 March.

In a statement on the report made available to PANA in New York, the UN rights chief, Zeid Al Hussein warned that the women’s movement around the world are facing a backlash that hurts both men and women, saying: "We need to be alert – the advances of the last few decades are fragile and should nowhere be taken for granted."

Al Hussein stated: "It is extremely troubling to see recent roll-back of fundamental legislation in many parts of the world, and such roll-backs are underpinned by the renewed obsession with controlling and limiting women’s decisions over their bodies and lives, and by views that a woman’s role should be essentially restricted to reproduction and the family."

He said that, while such pushbacks are carried out in the name of tradition, they are often a response to segments of society calling for change.

He pointed to recent legislation in Bangladesh, Burundi and the Russia, which weakens women’s rights to fight against child marriage, marital rape and domestic violence, respectively.

"With the world’s young population concentrated in developing nations, retrogressive measures denying women and girls access to sexual and reproductive health services will have a devastating effect," the UN human rights chief said.

Al Hussein noted that the development had led to more maternal deaths, more unintended pregnancies, fewer girls finishing school and the economic impact of failing to fully include women in the workforce.

The UN human rights chief said: "In short, a generation without choices and a collective failure to deliver on the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

He, however, praised women’s movements in countries such as Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia, where women and men took to the streets to demand change, but warned that, "it is time to come together to protect the important gains of the past and maintain a positive momentum."

The report, entitled: "Women’s Rights in Africa", stated that, in Africa, women continue to be denied full enjoyment of their rights in every country, and statistics show that some African countries have no legal protection for women against domestic violence, are forced to undergo female genital mutilation, and forced to marry while still children.

It, however, said that, in Africa – as around the globe – when women exercise their rights to access to education, skills, and jobs, there is a surge in prosperity, positive health outcomes, and greater freedom and well-being, not only of women but of the whole society.

"Human rights are not a utopian fairy-tale -they are a recipe for sound institutions, more sustainable development and greater peace," the UN human rights chief wrote in the Foreword to the report.

He stated: "When all women are empowered to make their own choices and share resources, opportunities and decisions as equal partners, every society in Africa will be transformed."

Among its recommendations, the report called on African governments to encourage women’s full and productive employment, to recognize the importance of unpaid care and domestic work, and to ensure women can access and control their own economic and financial resources.

The also report stressed that women should not be seen only as victims but, for example, as active agents in formal and informal peace building processes.
-0-  PANA  AA  7March2017

07 march 2017 19:42:20

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