16 Days of Activism against GBV: 9 AU Member States yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol

SOAWR members during their meeting in Mombasa on the 30th of November, 2023./COURTESY

As the world continues to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, there is still concern about the continued violation, infringement, abuse, and denial of the rights of women in Africa.

The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) is concerned that these violations are in contravention of the provisions of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

Speaking in Mombasa on the sixth day of marking the 16 Days of Activism against GBV, SOAWR members also raised concerns that nine African Union (AU) Member states were yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol which was adopted by AU in 2005.

“We urgently call on Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Morroco, Niger, Somalia, and Sudan, and also encourage the Republic of Botswana to formally deposit the instrument of ratification with the African Union Commission. We also urge the Central African Republic, which took steps to ratify the Maputo Protocol in 2012, to urgently complete the process by depositing the instrument of ratification with the African Union Commission,” said the SOAWR members.

Apart from ratifying the Maputo Protocol, member states should also enact and effectively implement appropriate legislative or regulative measures prohibiting and curbing all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

“We urge all AU Member States to invest in public education, information, communication, and other strategies to achieve the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices and all other practices that are based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of either sexes or on stereotyped roles,” said the members.

Also read: GBV still high in Africa, says SOAWR

Speaking at the briefing, Carol Osero-Agengo, the Global Initiatives Lead & Africa Regional Representative at Helpge International, said some of the emerging trends in GBV include FGM on infants and babies, child marriages, violence in the workplace, and sexual harassment.

“We are seeing violations of older women where older women are being burnt alive and killed just to get their wealth and property,” said Carol.

In countries facing conflict, women, girls, and children become the most affected.

“Rape is a common issue in conflict situations. The other thing is the right to food, older women and children are not catered for when planning for food and other products during the conflict,” said Carol.

GBV has moved to the digital spaces where women and young people face online violence daily.

SOAWR now wants the 55 AU Member States to adopt and enforce legislative, administrative, social, and economic measures to prevent, punish, and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, ensuring the protection of every woman’s right to dignity.

When it comes to marriages, SOAWR has called on the AU Member States to employ appropriate national, and legislative measures to guarantee that women enjoy equal rights as men and are regarded as equal partners.

“We further call upon AU Member States to take specific positive actions, including affirmative action, enabling national legislation, and other measures to ensure that women are represented equally and effectively at all levels in all electoral and decision-making processes,” said the SOAWR members.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

This year’s theme is ‘Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls’.