Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia. It is an extreme and violent form of discrimination and violates the rights of women and girls to equality, bodily integrity and dignity.
As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we are at a critical window of opportunity – a ‘tipping point’ where momentum is growing and change can be accelerated. FGM is now prohibited to varying degrees in 20 out of 29 of the countries in Africa and the Middle East where it is most prevalent, although full implementation of the law continues to be a challenge.
Eleven years ago, African states made formidable progress by jointly adopting the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the Maputo Protocol - regarded as one of the most progressive women’s and human rights instruments in the world. Its signing, ratification and implementation would have a momentous effect on the rights of women on a continent that has historically seen women bear the multiple brunt of poverty, exclusion and experience wars and civil unrests.
11 years ago, on the 11th of July 2014, The African Union (AU) Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa was adopted. It is also known as the ‘Maputo Protocol’ alluding to the city where it was adopted, or the African Women’s Protocol (hereafter referred to as the Protocol).
The challenge of access to justice features prominently where rights of women are concerned. Though national and international legislative framework may offer protection to women’s rights, there may be failure in the legislation to recognize structural inequalities that place women at less than equal footing with men. African norms are characterized by deeply patriarchal values that manifest in most relationships, the effect of which may not adequately addressed legislation.
Friday 11th July 2014 marks the 11th Anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (“The Maputo Protocol”) by AU states. It has been described by women’s rights law experts as one of the most progressive women’s human rights instruments in the world, with articles addressing inter alia development, peace, violence against women, sexual and reproductive health rights amongst others.
The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) strongly condemns the unlawful and arbitrary detention of Women Human Rights Defenders in Cairo-Egypt on Saturday 21st June 2014. The seven Women Human Rights Defenders; Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid and Fikreya Mohamed were arrested for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law and calling for the release of all detainees and imprisoned human rights defenders in Egypt.
Over the last ten years, Equality Now has continued to serve as the secretariat of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (“SOAWR”). As a network of 44 organizations working across 24 African states, SOAWR’s primary goal is to advocate for the universal ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (“The Protocol”), by Africa’s 54 states.
he Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) joins the global community in condemning the abduction of over 276 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 and Nigeria’s subsequent failure to take immediate action to ensure their safe return and continued protection.
SOAWR Coalition partners including African Women's Development and Communication Network( FEMNET), Akina Mama wa Afrika, Equality Now, IPAS-Africa Alliance in collaboration with women's rights organizations across the continent convened a side event on the margins of the 22nd AU Heads of State Summit to discuss the priorities of African girls and women in the post 2015 framework.
11, October, 2013 The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) joins the global community in celebrating this year’s International Day of the Girl Child under the theme “Innovating for Girls Education.”