The Women’s Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights was involved in various activities at the 63rd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights which is currently been held in Banjul, The Gambia from 24 October to 7 November 2018. The session was preceded by the NGO Forum and 37th African Human Rights Book Fair, which took place from 20 to 22 October 2018.

  1. Joint Panel on the 15th Anniversary for the Maputo Protocol, Rights of Older Women in Africa and the New AU Gender Strategy

On Sunday, 21 October 2018, the Centre and Equality Now co-sponsored a panel on the 15th anniversary of the Maputo Protocol focusing on reigniting CSO’s efforts towards universal ratification, domestication and implementation of the Maputo Protocol, rights of older women in Africa and the new AU Gender Strategy. Featuring presentations by Jean Paul Murunga of Equality Now/SOAWR, Anna Moyo of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), Irene Mwendwa of FEMNET and Roseline Kihuma of HelpAge International.  These presentations premised on the Maputo Protocol, focused on different areas including women in situations of conflict, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage and older women.  Special focus was paid to further deepen discussion about strategies and priorities to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

The #Agewithrights campaign photo exhibition was also featured at the 37th African Human Rights Book fair at the NGO Forum. Photos exhibited included photographs by Adebayo Okeowo from the Centre’s Advocacy Unit, HelpAge International and Think Young Women (TYW)- Gambia.

  1. Panel on the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons and the African Disability Protocol

On Tuesday, 23 October 2018, the Women’s Rights Unit coordinated a parallel event preceding the the 63rd session of the African Commission titled “Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons and the African Disability Protocol.” The event, which was moderated by Patience Mungwari Mpani of the Centre for Human Rights, foregrounded discussions on the lived experiences of older women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) respectively.

Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons

On lived experiences of ageing, Mrs Juka Jabang highlighted that the status of older persons today in our African societies today has changed a great deal from playing distinct roles in the social frameworks promoting intergenerational understandings. Older persons are living less of a life of recognition and dignity. There is need to ensure that they are sufficiently appreciated and protected within the family and the society.

Rosaline Kihumba, HelpAge International shared statistical data of the current percentage of older persons and the forecasted percentage in 2050. She highlighted the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Older Persons (Protocol on Older Persons), a comprehensive instrument that protects the rights of older women. However, it is yet to come into force as no AU Member state has ratified it yet. Hence, she called on civil society to work closely with older people organizations and platforms at national and regional levels to leverage current efforts of promoting the signing, ratification and implementation of the Protocol.

African Disability Protocol

On lived experiences of persons with disabilities, Lamin Colley from the Gambia Federation of the Disabled (GFD) through a recording shared the limited opportunities available for PWDs. He highlighted the need for adequate laws to ensure the rights and protection of PWDs in The Gambia.

Willian Aseka of the Centre for Human Rights highlighted the value of the African Disability Protocol, which was adopted on 30 January 2018. He noted that Africa now has a continental binding legal document protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities. The adoption of the African Disability Rights Protocol marks an important step towards recognising the equal dignity of persons with disabilities on the continent.

Hon. Madam Ndey Secka, member of the National Assembly and also a PWD noted the critical role that states can play in not only providing relevant facilities but also ensuring that PWDs are able to actively participate in the decision-making processes in the country.

After sharing their stories and content of both Protocols, an interactive dialogue followed with participants regarding opportunities for advancing the human rights of older persons and PWDs, as well as galvanising civil society to encourage states to put processes in place to formally accept both the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons and the African Disability Rights Protocol. 

  1. High Level Panel on State Reporting

On Friday, 26 October 2018, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA), Commissioner Lucy Asaugbor hosted a a high-level panel on State Reporting Obligations and Guidelines to Reporting under the Maputo Protocol which the Centre participated in.

Commissioner Asaugbor highlighted that although 2018 marked 15 years since the adoption of Maputo Protocol only a handful of ratifying states have included a section on the Maputo Protocol in their report to the African Commission as required. Of the 40 countries that have ratified the Maputo Protocol, a total of 11 countries have fully complied with their reporting obligation under the Maputo Protocol. These are Angola, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Togo. I especially acknowledge and commend Nigeria who at the 62nd Session of the African Commission presented their second report under the Maputo Protocol. The first Country to do this and they have also reported within the expected reporting cycle.

It therefore becomes important that not only are these guidelines popularised amongst state parties but also that state parties understand their reporting obligations on the African Charter as well as the Maputo Protocol.

She reminded member states of their unassailable treaty obligation to submit periodic state reports and encouraged civil society to submit shadow reports, which greatly enhance the Commission’s assessment of state reports.

Patience Mungwari Mpani of the Centre highlighted the contents of the 2009 African Commission’s Guidelines for state reporting under the Maputo Protocol. In doing so, the Commission provided a benchmark for States undertaking reporting. States that are party to both the African Charter and the Protocol are expected to submit one report with Part A of the report dealing with the Charter and Part B being dedicated to the Maputo Protocol.

She also introduced the virtual platform on state reporting on the Maputo Protocol developed by the Centre. The virtual provide state parties with a single site that has all the information that they may need as they develop state reports. It can be accessed at http://www.maputoprotocol.up.ac.za/

The panel concluded with state parties urged to comply with their reporting mandate as that would go a long way in ensuring that the rights of women and girls are protected.


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