Maputo Protocol reinforces women’s rights in totality

02Jul 2020
Editor
The Guardian
Maputo Protocol reinforces women’s rights in totality

Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide, and they formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the feminist movement during the 20th century. In some countries, these rights are institutionalised or supported by law,-

-local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others, they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favour of men and boys.  

Issues commonly associated with notions of women's rights include the right to bodily integrity and autonomy, to be free from sexual violence, to vote, to hold public office, to enter into legal contracts, to have equal rights in family law, to work, to fair wages or equal pay, to have reproductive rights, to own property, and to education.

The African Union Commission (AUC)’s women, gender and development directorate (WGDD) has kicked off a series of engagement on the validation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) Scorecard and Index (MPSI).

The Scorecard and Index is an innovative contribution to the body of tools that seek to enhance accountability and assess the progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) and the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

The Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index has been developed to support effective gender equitable COVID-19 response and recovery monitoring and implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

It underscores the need to uphold women’s rights obligations encapsulated in the Protocol during the COVID-19 crisis, to mitigate the harsh impact of the pandemic on women. This is especially important as women are disproportionally affected by the pandemic and responses that exclude gender equality and women’s concerns might have long-term negative impact on women.

WGDD in collaboration with Africa Leadership Forum and Plan International organized a first review of the “Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index Framework: A COVID-19 Response and Recovery Monitoring and Implementation Tool”, with representatives of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), United Nations Agencies and civil society. The framework will be implemented in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to support national as well as regional monitoring and implementation efforts of the Maputo Protocol.

AU Commission’s Women, Gender and Development Directorate, Acting Director Victoria Maloka, restated the commitment of the African Union to promote and protect women’s rights and to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment, during and post the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted the importance of Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index framework in ensuring that the progress made in Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) is not compromised, noting that the series of engagement for its validation will involve various stakeholders, including the AU member states.  “The Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index is important because it is a monitoring and evaluation tool that will be used not only as a safety measure against violations of women’s rights during the emergency crises, but also to protect women’s rights in the long run. This is a good milestone in enhancing accountability for how Member States are implementing the obligations that they have committed to. The framework will be used as not only an emergency tool but also as a recovery tool,” she stated.

The Maputo Protocol unequivocally reinforces women’s rights in totality, while expounding on specific and unique experiences of African women and sets the standards for women’s human rights in Africa that includes among others, elimination of discrimination against women; the right to dignity; the right to life, integrity and security of the person; the right to access to justice and equal protection before the law; the right to participation in political and decision-making processes; the right to peace; and the right to protection in armed conflicts, improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to female genital mutilation.     

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