We demand respect for women’s rights in Africa

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Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect!

On the occasion of International Women’s Day and the first anniversary of the Campaign “Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect!”*, over one hundred organisations publish their “Dossier of Claims”, addressed to the governments of the continent.

For the past year, the Campaign partner organisations, present in more than 40 countries, have been mobilising to call upon their governments to end the serious discrimination that continues to target women in Africa.

The Campaign, « Africa for women’s rights », launched on 8 March 2009, is already resonating across the continent and some progress has been achieved, including the adoption of a law to increase the representation of women in political life in Burkina Faso, the prohibition on female genital mutilation in Uganda and the nomination of a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on sexual violence in armed conflict.

But we cannot forget that women continue to suffer daily violations of their fundamental rights,” stated Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “Inequality before the law in relation to familial authority or access to inheritance, acts of sexual violence committed with complete impunity, obstacles to access to education...the persistence of such discrimination is evidence of the long road that we need to travel before women in Africa obtain equal rights”.

The Dossier of Claims is the outcome of investigations conducted by the Campaign partner organisations in their respective countries
and reflects the situation of women’s rights in over thirty African countries. It contains key demands to eliminate discrimination and violence against women, including: the abolition of laws consecrating inferior status to women within the family or preventing them from having access to property; the criminalisation of sexual violence and the prosecution of perpetrators; as well as the ratification of international and regional women’s rights protection instruments.

These “claims” are directed towards national governments, since strengthening respect of women’s rights is primarily a question of political will.

« With this Dossier of Claims, all the actors of the Campaign call upon African governments to take concrete and immediate measures to respect women’s rights. We call upon them to RATIFY women’s rights protection instruments and to RESPECT them in law and practice », concluded the Campaign Steering Committee.

*This Campaign was initiated by FIDH in collaboration with 5 regional organisations: Femmes Africa Solidarités (FAS), Women in Law in South Africa (WLSA), African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) and Women’s aid Collective (WACOL).

The Campaign has the support of : Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1984; Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 2003; Wolé Soyinka, Nobel Literature Prize laureate 1986; Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Literature Prize laureate 1991; Youssou N’Dour, Artist; Tiken Jah Fakoly, Artist; Angélique Kidjo, Artist; Salif Keita, Artist; Maryse Condé, Writer; Rachid Taha, Artist; Jane Birkin, Artist; Bafing Kul, Artist. The Campaign is also supported by: Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Yakin Ertürk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Pramila Patten, UN expert, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; and Angela de Melo, Vice President, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Campaign blog : www.africa4womensrights.org

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