A group of African activists met yesterday to fast-track the progress of the continent’s protocol on women’s rights.
During the presentations, participants discussed ways through which the protocol will be domesticated and implemented to ensure that all African women enjoy their rights fully.
Mary Wandia who represented Gender and Justice Lead, a Pan African programme, explained that the protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s rights, on the rights of women in Africa was drafted in 1994 at the African Union, adopted in 2003 and ratified by 27 countries in 2005.
“In a nutshell, this set of rules aims at elimination of discrimination against women, enhancing their right to dignity, assuring integrity and security of the person as well as increasing their access to justice and equal protection before the law among others,” she explained.
A representative of Rwanda’s gender monitoring office, Daniel Taremwa, noted that after the country ratified the protocol in 2004 assessment studies on its implementation were done in 2008 by government especially in the judicial system.
“During our assessment we realized that many judges know nothing about the protocol but they are ready to introduce it in the system.
The government also spent over Rwf15 million translating the rules into Kinyarwanda so that women in both rural and urban settings understand and claim their rights,” Taremwa said.
Participants hailed Rwanda’s gender promotion strides adding that this is the sole reason why this first stakeholder’s conference concerning this protocol’s implementation has been held here.
The Director of the Women, Gender and Development Directorate in the African Union commission, Litha Musyimi Ogana recognized the role of civil society in achieving the protocol’s goal adding that continued advocacy efforts are needed to increase awareness.
“The challenge for most governments is having their existing constitution and laws to be in conformity with the protocol. We believe this meeting will set the stage to reverse this situation,” an optimistic Ogana explained.
The meeting attracted participants from over 20 African countries including, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Liberia, Gambia, Togo and Burkina Faso among others.