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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Statement from the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa on the Occasion of

This year the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights marks the Pan African Women’s Day by looking at achievements of women across the continent. The establishment of the African Women’s Day now called “Pan Africa women Day” is a positive initiative that should be supported by States Parties, CSOs and technical and financial partners in order to contribute to create a wide framework of exchange and reflection that allows African women to evaluate initiatives, programmes, plans and politics implemented in their favour. We should also measure the scale of the challenges that need to be addressed, particularly in essential fields for women like the protection of life, the protection of physical integrity and the protection against any form of exploitation and violence.

African women continue to be the real medium of progressive changes in their communities across the continent by pressing for legal reforms and working through legal and political frameworks to improve their status.

At the moment of the celebration of this day, let us not forget that many challenges still required joint efforts from all stakeholders. African women face poverty, illiteracy and illness. They are subjected to sexual and domestic violence and the burden of tradition, armed conflicts, financial and food crisis. They lack adequate qualification to find a decent job, and suffer from the insufficient and/or absence of pertinent politic to satisfy their specific needs. African Governments and the international community must be aware of this situation.

Despite wars and daily challenges they face in many part of Africa, African women continue to thrive with success for their survival. In Eastern Congo, for example handicapped women have managed to create a sustainable business by selling their crafts on the auction site Ebay. These women have found a willing buying market through the online portal over the last eight months, despite not having any funding to start the venture. Such endeavours as these go to demonstrate the courage and the tenacity of women in Africa. DRC, Sudan, Somalia and others parts of Africa have been riddled with violence and women in the majority are experiencing sexual violence.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights celebrates the ongoing collaboration with States Parties and Civil Society organisations who are constantly supplementing the promotion and protection work of the Commission, in particular with regard to women’s rights.

In July of this year, the Special Rapporteur participated in the activities of the 11 th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Through advocacy and lobbying activities in collaboration with Civil Society, the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus, the resolution on “Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Human Rights”. A resolution on the same issue was initially adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights at its 44 th Ordinary Session, held from 10 to 24 November in Abuja, Nigeria. Victory worth to be noted and celebrated on this day, so that join actions be conducted at all level and that no woman in Africa dies during pregnancy or while trying to give birth.

The African Commission reminds States Parties who have not access the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, to put in place plans for speedy ratification. It urges States Parties who have ratify this important instrument to work for its promotion through campaign of information and sensitisation directed to women from all level of society and to adopt appropriate legislative measures required for the effective achievement of the right of women in Africa.

Banjul, 31 July 2009