Pan African Women’s Organization (PAWO) Secretary General, Pinky Kekana, will be leading a continental delegation to a high level consultation meeting to be held at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The meeting, which will take place from 12 – 14 December 2018, aims to create broad awareness on the significance of the Maputo Protocol, and to secure the active engagement and commitment of the Member States that have not ratified, to do so by the agreed deadline of 2020.
The meeting will celebrate 15 years of the Maputo Protocol and identify ways to secure universal ratification, removal of reservations, domestication and implementation of the Maputo Protocol including strategies for mobilising support.
The Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights is an African regional treaty affirming women’s rights to exercise self-determination and bodily autonomy free of discrimination, coercion and violence.
The Protocol draws explicitly as well as implicitly from existing United Nations (UN) international human rights law and authoritative guidance and contextualizes it to women in Africa.
The Protocol is lauded as the world’s most comprehensive binding legal instrument on women’s rights for its breadth of coverage and innovative provisions, its articles in the Protocol set out States obligations to, among others, protection from harmful practices; rights in marriage, which include entitlement to property and the custody and guardianship of children; protection from child, early and forced marriages; the right to peace; reproductive and health rights; and the right to be protected against HIV infection.
The Protocol also includes specific provisions on the protection of rights of women with disabilities. Forty one countries have ratified the Maputo Protocol with the latest ratifications coming in from Algeria, Mauritius, South Sudan and Ethiopia for ratifying the Maputo Protocol in 2017 and 2018.
Kekana said that the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them.
“As we celebrate this historic legal instrument, the words of Thomas Sankara remain unequivocally relevant. He said: inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. The Maputo Protocol helps us establish such a society,” Kekana said.
Former Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the Maputo Protocol is “a testimony that the founding fathers and mothers of the OAU/AU (Organisation of African Unity/African Union) and PAWO did not liberate its men and women in vain.”
The high level consultation meeting will be followed by in-country Advocacy Missions to the Member States that are yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol to engage national stakeholders, with a view to understanding the challenges to ratifying the instrument and identifying opportunities to facilitate ratification. – SAnews.gov.za