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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release from the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa on the Occasion of International Women's Day

On the occasion of International Women’s Day , commemorated on the 8th March 2010, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights , would like to honour and remember all women from the Continent who have been part of the struggle and have made significant contributions to the improvement of the situation of women’s rights in Africa and across the globe.

During the month of March 2010, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will undertake a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. Emphasis will be placed on the sharing of experiences and good practices in the field of women’s rights, with a view to overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges, including those related to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, Commissioner Soyata Maïga, acknowledges that while measures have been taken in several countries to improve the role and welfare of women and girls in society, numerous challenges still lay ahead of us. Twenty-six Member States to the African Charter on Human and People’s Right are yet to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa and the ones that have, are yet to implement the provisions of this important instrument through concrete measures. Throughout the Continent, women and girls continue to suffer from discrimination and exploitation in all spheres of society, both in times of peace and war.

It is important, however, to mention that the situation of women and girls is not all gloom. Almost all governments now have gender policies that have led to the adoption of legislative reforms in areas such as family law, health, education, and access to justice. Important policies on gender equality have been adopted, and various governments have increased their efforts to improve female representation in key political, leadership and administrative positions.

As 2010 opens the African Women’s Decade, marks the 30 th anniversary of CEDAW, the 15 th year since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and the 5 th anniversary since the entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women is calling on all governments and stakeholders at all levels to take this opportunity to bridge the gap between policy and reality and ensure that they implement all the legal instruments relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of women, including the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, adopted in July 2004 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.