IV. Activities in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights in Africa
A. Seminars and Meetings with civil society organisations and other partners involved in the promotion of women’s rights.
12. From 27 to 28 June, 2011
We participated in the 18th Pre-Summit on Gender Mainstreaming in the African Union (GIMAC) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, convened by Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) in partnership with the Economic Social, and Cultural Council (ECOSOC), the ECA, ILO, and the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice with the support of the Government of Equatorial Guinea.
13. The GIMAC is a discussion and proposal forum for Civil Society Organisations to evaluate the implementation of the African Union’s Gender Declaration on Equality (2004) and the Maputo Protocol (2005).
14. The GIMAC was attended by Ministers of Gender Affairs of Burundi, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of South Africa and Seychelles, senior officials from UNESCO, UNICEF and UN-Women; their contributions on the need for gender mainstreaming into policies in Africa enhanced the quality and brilliance of the discussions.
15. The discussions focused on the implementation of the African Women’s Decade (2010 – 2020), the conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and in Sudan and their impact on women and children in the implementation of the Maputo Protocol and the Gender Declaration.
16. At the end of the discussions, recommendations were made vis-a-vis the Member States of the African Union, the African Union Commission and GIMAC. Specific recommendations were made to countries facing conflict situations and those preparing for elections. These recommendations were presented by a delegation of women leaders to different African public figures, and they served as a tool to lobby the Heads of State of Liberia and Uganda.
17. We participated in the meetings of the Executive Council and the Summit of Heads of State and Government.
18. From 03 to 04 September, 2011
We participated in the preparatory meetings and the launching of a Space for Dialogue, Exchanges and Actions of Women of Mali, in Bamako.
19. The space is a platform for women leaders in Mali to focus on objectives focused on rights, equity, dignity, empowerment, solidarity and the exercise of full citizenship rights by women.
20. From 2 to 4 October, 2011
We participated in a training of trainers programme on peacekeeping operations organised by the Department of Women, Gender and Development of the African Union in Nazareth (Ethiopia), in collaboration with the Peace and Security Department and in partnership with AU-UNDP and UN-Women. This training was attended by persons from various sectors, in particular NGO leaders, top male and female military officers, both women and men from several African countries including experts in the field of gender, peace and security. A draft manual was presented and amended. It is made up of several modules dealing with men and women’s issues in the area of armed conflict, the human rights of women, the architecture of the African Union vis-à-vis human rights, peace and security.
B. Notes Verbales/ reminder notices to States Parties
21. Reminder notices were as usual sent to States which had not ratified the Maputo Protocol to encourage them to do so.
22. Notes verbales were sent to the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of Niger. Only Niger gave a favourable response to accept the promotion mission which was carried out in July.
C. Press Releases / Declarations / Articles
23. June 2011
We drafted the preface of the « Operating Guide on the Maputo Protocol for Legal Actions ». This guide was formulated under the guidance of SOAWR and the NGO, Equality Now. SOAWR is a coalition of women’s NGOs working towards the promotion of women and girls’ rights in Africa.
24. July 2011.
We also issued a press release to encourage and commend the authorities of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea on the occasion of the ratification of the Maputo Protocol at the Head of States’ Summit in Malabo. The communiqué also went to the States that had not yet ratified this all important instrument.
D. Activities carried out as part of the 50th ordinary session of the African Commission.
25. October 2011
Participation in the NGO Forum.
26. From 22 to 23 October, 2011
We also participated in the colloquium on the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
27. We also took part in the meeting of the Working Group on indigenous populations/communities; and discussed items on the agenda at the meeting.
Conclusion and Recommendations
28. Since the last session, few positive changes have occurred in the legal status of women and girls. Thus, in spite of the dynamic and constant advocacy role played by both the mechanism and women’s organisations vis-a-vis policy makers and States Parties, only Equatorial Guinea ratified the Maputo Protocol at the Heads of State Summit in Malabo.
29. In many countries, especially the ones in conflict situations and in the horn of Africa: Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, the health and food situation of women and children, became even more precarious than ever as a result of the devastating famine situation in that part of Africa.
30. So many voices were raised calling on the International Community and Africa to mobilise emergency assistance aimed at addressing the suffering of thousands of women and children.
31. The mechanism would like to join its voice to these appeals as a cause for the respect for the right to life, health and the right to food which are basic human rights and their fulfillment is the responsibility of all.
To the African Union
32. Urging the Member States which have not yet done so, to ratify and/or accelerate the ratification process of the Maputo Protocol;
33. Encouraging the Member States that have ratified the Protocol to implement it and to present timely periodic reports to the African Commission based on Guidelines adopted to that effect.
34. Futher urging the countries that have not yet done so, to submit their annual report on progress they have made in integrating the gender dimension into policies and programmes in accordance with item 12 of the African Union’s Gender Declaration.
To the Member States
35. Accelerating the implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa; the ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol by the States that have not yet done so.
36. Creating opportunities for women to have access to land and be trained in new agricultural techniques to ensure increased productivity.
37. Developing and/or strengthening the funding agencies engaged in women entrepreneurship to enable women and girls to contribute effectively to sustainable development.
38. Ensuring that electoral processes take into due consideration the specific problems of women and the needs of women and girls.
To the African Commission
39. Carrying out the dissemination of the Guidelines for the presentation of State reporting according to the terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to women’s rights in Africa.
40. Supporting the efforts of the Mechanism of the Special Rapporteur to enable it to support programmes and strategies of the African Union as part of the African Women’s Decade.