|Commissioner Soyata Maiga (Photo credit: ACHPR)|
Few positive developments on the protection of women’s rights in Africa
Few positive developments have been recorded since last Session regarding the protection of women’s rights, Commissioner Soyata Maiga, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa said on Thursday.
Despite the intensive advocacy campaign conducted by the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur and the activities to combat gender-based violence organised by NGOs, little has been achieved.
Maiga’s presentation on April 11 is part of the Activity Reports of Special Mechanisms of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to which she is a member. The 53rd Ordinary Session of the ACHPR is hosted by The Gambia from 9-23 April, 2013.
“With the situation in northern Mali since March 2012, gender-based violence has taken a criminal dimension given the forced Islamisation imposed on the people especially women,” she said.
She accuses the MUJAO terrorists and other jihadist movements of perpetrating public beatings, gang rape, stoning of unmarried couples, unwanted pregnancies, forced marriages, inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment.
She also blames Islamists for women’s inadequate detention conditions; the distruction of health centres, schools, and women’s working tools such as multifunctional platforms and credit institutions.
In light of these violations, she said, a panel discussion was specifically organised on the situation of women in times of conflict. The event serves as a basis of women delegates from Mali, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ratify Maputo Protocol
It was meant to share the concerns and needs of women in the three countries in terms of prevention, protection and participation in the ongoing peace negotiation efforts in these countries.
Commissioner Maiga urges Member States of the African Union to accelerate the implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa.
She challenged States which have not yet ratify the Maputo Protocol to expedite efforts in ensuring the protection of women’s right through greater access to justice by providing judicial assistance and community legal services.
For countries that ratified the Protocol, she encourages them to present without delay their periodic reports to the African Commission.
Involve women in peace negotiation efforts
“Member States must legislate and adopt national action plans for implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325, to put an end to violence against women and girls, and allocate necessary financial resources to conflict prevention programmes and activities,” Commissioner Maiga said.
She said the AU States must ensure the involvement of women in peace negotiation efforts, protecting women’s rights and putting an end to impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.
They must also provide necessary financial resources for the economic, social and psychological support of women victims of rape and other forms of violence, she said.
She call on African Governments to ensure equal participation for men and women at all levels of decision-making and the implementation of legislation on women’s access to land and property.
For the African Commission, Maiga said, it must support the activities of the mechanism of the special rapporteur to enable it participate in AU programmes and strategies under the African Women’s Decade.
Written by Modou S. Joof