THE PROTOCOL TO THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN: HARNESSING A POTENTIAL FORCE FOR POSITIVE CHANGES COMMISIONED BY OXFAM GB SOUTHERN AFRICAN REGIONA STUDY UNDERTAKEN BY ROSEMARY SEMAFUMU
LIST OF ACRONYMS
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
African National Congress
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
First of all let me thank OXFAM GB for having the foresight to commission this research and for giving me the privilege of carrying it out. I would like to express my gratitude to members of staff of OXFAM GB, Peter Mutoredzanwa, Regional Programme Manager, Pretoria, Cardinal Uwishaka, Maputo, Ayanda Mvimbi, Program Coordinator, Johannesburg, Irungu Houghton, and of the OXFAM GB staff. Special appreciation goes to Rose Gawaya, Regional Advisor on Gender from OXFAM whose diligence, commitment and emphasis on excellence made a world of difference to this undertaking.
I would also like to thank all the members of our advisory team especially Susan Nkomo, whose her insight, wisdom and enthusiasm merits specific mention. I wish to thank Angela Melo, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women for her critical role both at the regional level and in her country Mozambique.
Without the hard work of the national researchers from Mozambique, Alcinda Abreu and Angelica Salomao, from South Africa, Susan Holland Muter and from Zambia Stephen Mukwaya, this report would not possible. I will remain forever indebted to all the key respondents at the national and regional levels who took time out their busy schedules to make an invaluable contribution to this process. I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the assistance that I received from Eunice Kigenyi, Uganda Embassy Addis Ababa, in obtaining responses from Addis Ababa.
I ardently hope that this research will help make a real difference to the lives of ordinary African women and men. I hope it will be a positive contribution to efforts to make the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women a truly African Women’s Protocol.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY INTRODUCTION
This report highlights the major findings of research on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women hereafter referred to as the African Women’s Protocol. The research was commissioned by OXFAM GB to strengthen the popularization and mobilization campaign on the African Women’s Protocol. The executive summary gives the background to the research and highlights the research findings. The research analyzes the Protocol in the light of selected human rights instruments. It examines the situation of women and the implications of the Protocol in Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia in the thematic areas of governance, violence against women and health and reproductive rights. The research assesses awareness about the Protocol among policy makers and civil society and highlights threats, challenges, best practices and lessons. It concludes that although the African Women’s Protocol is a potential force for change, supporters of women’s rights and gender equality must take deliberate and concerted action to ensure its popularization, ratification, domestication and implementation. The report makes a number of general and country specific recommendations in this respect.
On 11 July 2003, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women. It seeks to promote and protect the rights of African women by reinforcing international human rights standards and adapting them to address context specific violations of African women’s rights.
On 8 July 2004, African Heads of State and government adopted a Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa in which they undertook to sign and ratify the African Women’s Protocol by the end of 2004. However by 31 December 2004, only five countries had ratified the African Women’s Protocol. This was only a third of the 15 required for the African Women’s Protocol’s entry into force.
Thanks to ongoing campaigns and pressure by NGO’s, the number of ratifications dramatically doubled by 28 February 2005. Ten countries have ratified the African Women’s Protocol and duly deposited their instruments of ratification with the African Union. They are Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal. Currently five more reservations are needed for the African Women’s Protocol to enter into force! When this is attained the focus should shift from entry into force to continent-wide ratification and implementation. The more countries ratify and domesticate the African Women’s Protocol, the more legitimacy it will have.
OXFAM GB has supported a number of activities to promote the African Women’s Protocol as part of its drive to protect women’s rights and enhance gender equality. Notable among these are the solidarity campaign for the ratification of the African Women’s Protocol and Pambazuka News, a weekly online electronic newsletter that advocates for positive social change in Africa. To complement these efforts, OXFAM GB conducted policy research on the African Women’s Protocol. The purpose of this research was to assess its implications in order to strengthen the popularization and mobilization campaigns in three countries; South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.
SCOPE, METHODOLOGY AND LIMITATIONS
The research was conducted at two levels: the regional level and the national level. At the national level, the countries covered were Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. The methodology used was a literature review, interviews and questionnaires. The key interviewees included officials of national Governments, and regional intergovernmental organizations, Parliamentarians and members of the Pan African Parliament, academicians, and representatives of civil society and community-based organizations.
At the regional level, a total of 15 people were interviewed or responded to the questionnaire. In South Africa the total number of respondents and interviewees was 14. In Zambia, 15 people participated. In Mozambique, there were 11 respondents. The questionnaire that formed the basis for the interviews covered a number of areas including the situation of women with regard to the thematic areas, the strengths, weaknesses, implications of and obstacles to the operationalization of the African Women’s Protocol. It covered the level of awareness among policy makers, civil society and the media, best practices, as well as recommendations for actions and target actors. The research team encountered a number of problems as it conducted this research. The timing December 2004 to January 2005 coincided with the holiday season, making it difficult to interview some respondents. In Mozambique this situation was aggravated by the national elections.