SOAWR is involved in various campaigns in different platforms to promote the rights and dignity of women.
Success and Achievements
The protocol came into force on 25 November 2005, historically breaking all records for the speed with which an African human rights instrument has come into force
Tools, manuals and publications on the SOAWR Campaign for advocates, members and interested institutions on the rights of women in Africa.
Quarterly updates that Equality Now receives from SOAWR members who are working on the campaign for ratification, domestication and popularization of the Maputo Protocol.
The Maputo Protocol
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The Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) is a regional network made up of 46 national, regional and international civil society organisations working towards the promotion and protection of Women's Human Rights in Africa. Since its inauguration in 2004, SOAWR's main area of focus has been to compel African states to urgently sign, ratify, domesticate and fully implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the rights of Women in Africa commonly referred to as The Maputo Protocol was adopted in Mozambique on July 11, 2003. It went into effect in November 2005 after 15 of the 53 African Union Member States Ratified it.
It is indeed a positive step towards combating discrimination and violence against women and significant in the efforts to promote and ensure respect for the rights of African Women.The protocol was adopted in Maputo, Mozambique and that's why it is known as the Maputo Protocol.
Following the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, a resolution was passed by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) mandating the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to draft an additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) that would elaborate the human rights of African women. Drafting the Protocol became the main task of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa who enlisted support from various African women’s organizations
The “Guide to Using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for Legal Action” was developed as a tool for lawyers, women rights defenders and public prosecutors. This corresponds with our objectives to domesticate and implement the Protocol by encouraging member states to take practical steps to domesticate and implement the Protocol and encouraging lawyers and women rights defenders to use the Protocol as a tool to defend women and girls whose human rights have been violated.
The tool offers step-by-step guidance for using the Protocol at local, national and regional levels. It explains what constitutes a violation in the context of the Protocol and how to bring these violations before domestic courts and regional mechanisms like the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It provides case law that lawyers can reference on key cases related to women’s rights, ruled on by various Human Rights Treaties monitoring bodies including the African Commission.
I urge all African States to ratify the Protocol immediately; because African women's rights cannot be postponed as any human rights cannot be postponed.
36 States have Signed & Ratified
15 States have Signed but not Ratified
3 States have yet to Sign or Ratify
Key SOAWR achievements include:
- Intensive advocacy campaign that enabled the Protocol come into force 18 months after its adoption by AU Heads of State, the fastest time that a human rights instrument has come into force in the AU.
- Used a mobile phone campaign ‘Text now 4 women’s rights’ to popularise the protocol, enabling thousands of African cell phone users to join the campaign and be updated on the progress of ratification Held press conferences, television and radio interviews and issued press releases.
- Securing 36 out of 54 AU state parties to the Protocol, which is over 50% of the countries on the continent.
- Publication of a Guide to Using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for legal action in four of the AU’s official languages i.e. Arabic, English, French and Portuguese.
- Development and dissemination of the African Human Rights system first General Comments on Article 14 (1) (d) and (e), focusing on the rights of women living with HIV/AIDS.
- Convening over 150 lawyers from 32 African States since 2010, on the use of the Protocol in strategic litigation to secure the rights of girls and women at the national and regional level.
- Collaborating with the African Union Commission’s Women Gender and Development Directorate and UN Women to pilot the adoption of a multi-sectoral approach by governments to fast track the implementation of the Protocol in 12 states.
- In collaboration with Equality Now, The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and Make Every Woman Count produced “Journey to Equality: 10 Years of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa”. The publication brings together contributions from over two dozen individuals and institutions writing on their areas of expertise and seeks to provide an evaluation of progress made in various countries and across the region in implementing particular provisions of the Protocol.
- Established working relations with the relevant AU departments to track the progress of ratification by member states