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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the Occasion of the International Women's Day

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March 2008, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Commissioner Mâitre Soyata MAIGA wishes to join women around the world, and in particular, women in Africa in celebrating event. 

This year the theme which has been chosen by the United Nations is “Investing in Women and Girls”. The celebration of International Women’s Day comes at the end of the 52nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women held from the 27 February – 07 March 2008. The priority theme for the session is “Financing for Gender and equality and the empowerment of Women”. 

The need for African Governments to take into account and satisfy women’s economic and social rights is becoming an essential component for sustainable development. 

For the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, one of the strategies required to realize this objective is the ratification, domestication and implementation, by State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa 

The Protocol is one of the significant instruments on the continent that seeks to ensure the empowerment of women and girls in Africa. Article 13 of the Protocol outlines a number of actions which fall under the obligation and responsibility of the State Parties to the Protocol, in the area of women’s economic and social welfare rights. In particular, Article 13 states that: 

“State Parties shall adopt and enforce legislative and other measures to guarantee women equal opportunities in work and career advancement and other economic opportunities. In this respect, they shall promote equality to access to employment; the creation of appropriate conditions in support of women’s businesses and economic activities; the establishment of an effective system of social insurance and protection for women in the informal sector; the recognition of the right, for salaried women, to enjoy the same remuneration and advantages given to salaried men. State Parties shall introduce a minimum age for work and prohibit the employment of children below that age, and prohibit, combat and punish all forms of exploitation of children especially the girl-child”. 

The Special Rapporteur expresses serious concern about the precarious situation of women who work in the informal sector and requests that greater attention be paid to these women by African Governments and technical and financial partners. 

The Special Rapporteur would like to take this opportunity to remind African Governments of their obligations towards rural women who generally have limited access to land and agricultural credit facilities and to encourage their governments to integrate the needs of rural women as a category in their plans, policies and development programmes. 

The Special Rapporteur also urges women in African to establish greater solidarity with those women who are affected by poverty, illness and all those women who are victims of sexual abuse, political and ethnic conflicts on the continent, and who as a result of these factors, are excluded from the economic activities of their countries.