On 7 and 8 December 2020, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC), under the umbrella of the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Network, held a workshop on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and its efficacy as an advocacy tool for the protection and promotion of women’s rights.
The format was a virtual workshop offered to South African civil society organisations (CSOs) working in the field of women’s human rights. The aim of the workshop was to enhance capacity to advocate for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol, to engage with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to strengthen the capacity of CSOs. The workshop offered a platform to identify gaps in the implementation of the Maputo Protocol in South Africa, to discuss ways to effectively engage the government for the realisation of women’s rights and to monitor compliance with the Maputo Protocol.
- Dr Itumeleng Shale (Lecturer, National University of Lesotho)
- Advocate Sima Mavundla (Lecturer, University of Eswatini)
- Professor Mzikazi Nduna (Associate Professor, University of Witswatersrand)
- Ms Anna Moyo (Advocacy Programme Manager, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation)
- Ms Patience Mungwari (Programme Manager, Women’s Rights Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
- Ms Welekazi Stofile (Executive Director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre).
The interventions of the presenters gave a global overview of the African human rights system, as established by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and highlighted the principles and substantive provisions of the Maputo Protocol and the General Comments to the Maputo Protocol, and their importance in advocacy. The State reporting process, as a monitoring mechanism of States’ compliance with their obligations under the Maputo Protocol, was also discussed. The discussion highlighted the role of CSOs as key State partners throughout the process, as well as the importance and development of shadow reports.
The training analysed the status of the Maputo Protocol in South Africa, from the ratification, domestication and general implementation whilst discussing some challenges and gaps. For instance, it has been noted that laws passed by South Africa after the ratification of the Maputo Protocol still do not mention the Maputo Protocol in their Preambles. However, domestication of the Maputo Protocol requires at the very least, that the Preamble of these legislative measures or the ensuing amendments of existing legislation cite or refer to the Maputo Protocol.
Furthermore, there exist a number of gaps in South African legislation such as the criminalisation of sex work and the lack of legislative provisions protecting the rights of widows and the inheritance rights of women. It was recommended that South Africa should address the gaps that still exist in the domestication of the Maputo Protocol through the enactment of laws that protect women in all their diversity. This can be achieved by passing the Hate Crimes Bill into law, promulgating laws that protect the rights of widows and the inheritance rights of women. The workshop also focused on the impact on the realisation of women’s rights of the reservations that South Africa made when it ratified the Maputo Protocol.
Participants from all over the world applied for this course. Governmental officials, judges and magistrates, legal practitioners, academics from universities in Africa and particularly managers and staff of CSOs. CSOs that participated included non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organisations who support, network, lobby, and build the population's capacity on gender-based violence, access to justice, gender equality, social justice, leadership and mentorship, economic empowerment, to improve the status of women.
The participatory and inclusive approach that supported the format of the training enabled interactive discussions with the participants who confirmed the relevance of the training. The training added content and quality to participants’ knowledge and assisted with identifying the main obstacles to the implementation of the Maputo Protocol and the national related legislation. The workshop demonstrated the important role of CSOs and the need for their collaboration with the State to protect and promote the human rights of women.
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