The recently concluded SOAWR pre-summit meeting reflects on the achievements to date and charts a way forward
The SOAWR Review and Agenda Setting Meeting was held at the United Nations Conference Centre, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 22 - 24 January 2008 on the theme: Building an Accountable African Union: Perspectives of the African Women’s Movement. The meeting reflected on the national and continental campaign experiences on the rights of women to date with a view to laying down continental strategies for the full ratification and the effective implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa by Member States.
Having deliberated on past achievements, challenges and lessons learned, and realising the African Union and Heads of State and Governments’ commitment to promoting women’s rights through the adoption and signing of the Protocol and other related international human rights instruments do call on the member states to honour their obligations to make these rights a reality for women.,
Deeply concerned about the post election conflict situation in Kenya the meeting resolved to issue a separate communiqué on the conflict in solidarity with Kenyan women and appealing to the government, political parties, African Union, civil society organizations and the international community to act to urgently resolve the crisis,
Applauding the progress made by the African Union Commission in facilitating the realization of women’s rights in the continent, reaffirm our commitment to continue working with the African Union Commission as a key partner, in the pursuit of actualizing the rights provided in the Protocol,
Appreciating the speed at which the Protocol came into force; nevertheless express concern about the slow pace of ratification by the remaining thirty countries (Algeria, Botswana , Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Rep. of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe) and domestication and implementation of the Protocol by the twenty-three countries ( Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Comoros, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia) that have ratified the Protocol,
Reaffirming our commitment to sustain the efforts for the ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol; hereby call on state parties to;
- Ratify the Protocol without reservations and speedily domesticate and implement the provisions of the Protocol to ensure women enjoy all the rights therein
- Maintain gender mainstreaming within the African Union in the truest spirit of having gender equality and hence ensure the 50/50 representation at all levels of the African Union Commission as provided within the Constitutive Act (Article 4)
- Ratify the Protocol Establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and in the true spirit of human rights promotion and protection in Africa, follow the example of Burkina Faso and sign the declaration as provided in article 34(6) of the Protocol thereby removing the restriction on direct access to the court by individuals and civil society organisations
- Take a common stand on trade negotiations with the European Union and refrain from bilateral/unilateral Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which will compromise Africa’s development and in particular negatively impact on the lives of women and children.
- Open the African Union summit spaces for the civil society organizations, by means of accreditation thereby enabling them to effectively play their role as partners in development and human rights promotion. This would hence translate into the AU being truly an African peoples’ union!
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