(Op-Ed by Thomas White)

Let’s go back to the “trolley problem”. Imagine a group of hostages is chained to a train track with a runaway locomotive hurtling towards them. If the train stays on course, the entire group of hostages is going to die. If the train is derailed, fewer deaths will ensue, but massive chaos will be caused in the process.

(Op-Ed by Prof Danny Bradlow)

The coronavirus and its economic consequences have caused economic tsunamis in every country in the world. The scale of the onslaught will dominate discussions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank spring meetings due to take place – for the first time ever virtually – in mid April.

(Op-Ed by Ade JohnsonThiruna Naidoo & Annie Bipendu)

International Women's Day (IWD), celebrated annually on 8 March, is an opportunity to reflect on the achievement of gender equality in the world, and particularly in Africa. The commemoration of IWD provides a chance to assess the changes and progress made towards the achievement of gender equality generally and the protection of the human rights of women and girls particularly.

(By Christof Heyns & Frans Viljoen)

A new, global academic study to answer this question is launched in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

(By Geoffrey Ogwaro)

As South Africa commemorated World Aids Day on December 1, the country pledged to renew, rejuvenate and recommit itself to the fight to end HIV. There are nascent plans and frameworks in place, such as the national strategic plan on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB) and the national LGBTI HIV plan.

The theme for this year is “ending the HIV/Aids epidemic: community by community”, and the United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids is emphasising the role of communities in ending the epidemic once and for all.

(By Yolanda Booyzen)

On the 28th day of the fifth month, Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day is observed worldwide. This date echoes the menstrual cycle, which usually occurs every 28 days, while menstruation is approximately five days long. MH Day was first observed in 2014, to raise awareness of good menstrual hygiene management and how it can help girls and women reach their full potential. According to German-based NGO WASH United, which initiated the global commemoration, the silence around menstruation and the lack of access to menstruation management products directly impacts the self-esteem, health and education of girls and women, especially in developing countries.

(By Charles Ngwena)

Let us take a moment to reflect on the question of African identity. This is important for several reasons, not least in order to pay homage to the diversities that make up Africa against the backdrop of a colonial history which has sought to nativise Africans and treat them as if they are made from the same clay whether racially, culturally, sexually or otherwise.

(By Prof Danny Bradlow)

Kofi Annan (80) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as Secretary General of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.

(By Yolanda Booyzen)

If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics” – Keith Hansen, World Bank (2016).

At the beginning of every August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). And every year we are reminded of the elixir-like qualities of breastfeeding and how it can address some of the world’s toughest challenges – infant mortality, malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty, obesity and environmental degradation. The 2018 WBW campaign focuses on how breastfeeding is the “foundation of life” and how there are links between breastfeeding and each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(By Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

The African Union has taken several initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating injustices against women in Africa. The most recent has been a meeting ahead of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled for later this year to highlight the continent’s commitment to gender equality.

Other examples include the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), adopting the African Union Gender Policy and creating a fund for African women. In addition, the AU declared 2016 the year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women.

Fifteen years ago the AU adopted the Maputo Protocol under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to boost the protection of women. Its implementation was meant to be overseen by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a human rights body set up under the African Charter. And the process was meant to be monitored by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Despite the protocol’s adoption, the violation of women’s rights is still widespread across the continent. The list is long. But some of the more egregious acts include violence against women, child marriage, gender-based discrimination and exploitative widow rites. The reasons for these range from culture, to tradition, ignorance, lack of education and patriarchy.

The problem is that the protocol’s provisions remain mere words on paper. This is because its potential has been stifled by a weak monitoring and evaluation function.

There is a solution to the problem: the creation of an institution whose sole purpose is to protect women’s rights. But it will require political will and a commitment to make the necessary funds available.


 Subscribe to our newsletter