That we must not work in silos in utilising the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, popularly known as the Maputo Protocol, to safeguard and uphold the rights of women and girls across the continent is a key reflection on 18 years since the adoption of the Protocol. In an effort to further promote women’s rights and improve women’s lives in Africa the Women’s Rights Unit (WRU) at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the Advanced Human Rights Courses (AHRC) hosted a 5-day hybrid intensive short course on Women’s Rights in Africa. The course was presented from 18 to 22 October 2021 to provide participants, from various professional backgrounds, with a perspective of the women’s rights framework at the international and regional levels.
The course had 74 participants registered with 62 registered for online participation and 12 physically present at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus in Pretoria, South Africa. The participants were from 25 countries, 22 of which were African, 2 Asian and 1 European. Amongst the participants were government representatives, legal practitioners, representatives of non-governmental organisations, activists, as well as PhD and Masters students from various universities from across the continent working in areas relating to women’s rights.
The course provided a balance between women’s rights theory and practical advocacy skills. For each day, presentations covered a thematic area related to the rights of women. A key reflection on the course from the participants was the opportunity provided for them to get information on and engage with the African human rights dystem because their work had been focused mostly on the United Nations system. A notable comment came from one of the male participants who said that he applied to attend the course because he wondered why there was need to have women’s rights in addition to the general human rights framework, but he found the course an eye-opener which will change the way he carries out his work.
The course ended on a high note with participants receiving certificates from the Centre for Human Rights.