Union Heads of State
to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights
of Women in Africa
We the undersigned
write to you regarding the ratification of the Protocol on the
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of
Women in Africa by member states of the African Union and urge
your Excellencies to ensure the fast tracking of its ratification
by your respective governments by the next Heads of States Summit
in July 2004.
As you will
recall, the Protocol was adopted in July 2003 during the Second
Ordinary Session of the Heads of States held in Maputo. Its adoption
was celebrated by African women, women's and human rights organizations
in Africa and the diaspora as a major step towards finally securing
a legal and rights framework for the protection and advancement
of the human rights of African women.
month before its first anniversary only 29 of the AU's 53 member
states have signed the Protocol and only one (Comoros) has ratified
it. This record undermines the stated intention of African governments
to protect and promote the rights of all their peoples.
and their families experience social, cultural and economic rights
abuses and political discrimination on a daily basis. Physical
violence, vulnerability to life-threatening diseases most notably
HIV/AIDS, poor educational opportunities and legal barriers around
rights to property combine to keep women in Africa as second class
citizens as well as inhibiting their ability to contribute fully
to the prosperity of the continent.
Our call for
the urgent ratification of the Protocol by all countries of the
African Union deserves your serious consideration. Ratification
will send a clear signal that women and men can and should enjoy
equal rights and responsibilities. This enjoyment, in turn, will
realise benefits to the whole of the continent.
We in civil
society share the dream of the Heads of States that Africa's social,
economic and political well-being rests on enabling women's resourcefulness
at this time. We trust therefore that you will recognize the urgency
of the situation and will facilitate the speedy ratification of
the Protocol thereby completing the good work that your Excellencies
began in Maputo last year.
Development & Communication Network (FEMNET)
Credo for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights, Rotimi
Sankore - Coordinator
Equality Now, Faiza Jama Mohamed - Africa Regional Director
Fahamu, Firoze Manji - Director
Oxfam GB, Irungu Houghton - Pan-African Policy Adviser