AUGUST 3, 2010: Country Ratifies Protocol on African Women Rights

Country Ratifies Protocol on African Women Rights

SOURCE: East African Business Week

By Joseph Olanyo

Kampala — Uganda has ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

The protocol, also known as the Maputo Protocol, was adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the 2nd Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union (AU) convened in Maputo on July 11, 2003.

At the occasion of the Opening of the 17th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU, in Kampala recently, Uganda became the 28th African Union (AU) Member to ratify.

Uganda signed the Protocol in 2004, but became a member this year (2010).

Other AU Member States party to the Protocol include: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

"This historic event comes at the time when Africa is deliberating about the state of women's rights and suitably complements of the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Union: "Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa" and the AU Women's Decade 2010-2020," a statement from Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Ratification of The Protocol comes in the wake of challenges that still abound many African States but also at the same time, consolidates the gains and achievements that the NRM Government has since 1986 registered regarding women's rights and empowerment and reinforces key AU commitments such as Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa; APRM/NEPAD Declaration; AU Gender Policy and is in accordance with a number of International treaties that Uganda is party to.

The Protocol safeguards Ugandan women's political, social, economic and cultural rights and also sets continental standards that allows for equal enjoyment of rights with women in other parts of Africa. It is also a clear demonstration that the Government of Uganda is still committed to the realization of women's rights in Africa.

The Maputo Protocol comprehensively enshrines civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; the rights to development and peace and reproductive and sexual rights. It provides a legal framework for addressing gender inequality and the underlying aspects that perpetuate women's subordination.

For the first time in international law, it explicitly sets forth the reproductive rights of women. In another first, the Maputo Protocol explicitly calls for the legal prohibition of female genital mutilation. It calls for an end to all forms of violence against women including unwanted or forced sex, whether it takes place in private or in public and outlaws the exploitation and abuse of women in advertising and pornography.

It goes further to outline measures to ensure the protection of the rights of widows, girls, women living with HIV/AIDS, elderly women, women with disabilities, refugee women, displaced women and marginalised and poor women, women in detention and pregnant or nursing women.

The Government of Uganda reiterates its commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment and most importantly to the domestication and implementation of the Protocol so that it can be a reality for the women and girls of Uganda. We also reiterate our continued support to the partnerships with civil society, private sector, media, cultural institutions, and faith based organisations and development partners to ensure that the rights contained in this protocol become a reality.

The realisation of human rights and for this matter; women's rights in Africa within the AU is a joint responsibility of the Member States, Non-State Actors and the Citizens of Africa. It is in this spirit that we call upon all Ugandans (men, women, boys, and girls) to join us in celebrating this achievement and also to join efforts towards domestication and implementation of The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

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