BOLD AND TRUE: Celebrating Maputo Protocol At 20
The 20th Anniversary of Maputo Protocol celebrations, which took place on 10th -11th July in Nairobi, Kenya, saw over 1,000 gender equality advocates, government, private sector, and civil society leaders from around Africa coming together(physically and virtually) alongside The Solidarity for Africa Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition, The African Union, the Government of Kenya and other global and pan-African partners to celebrate the Maputo At 20 Celebrations themed ‘‘Raising the bar on policies and partnerships for African people: Accelerating Promises for African Women and Girls.”
This two-day conference, which focused on marking the 20-year anniversary of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, otherwise known as the Maputo Protocol, was an invocation for Africa to raise the bar on gender policies and partnerships. At the cusp of the discussions were intellectually stimulating engagements, thought-provoking speeches, and a unified commitment to driving women’s rights forward. Those involved in the Maputo Protocol Journey reflected on this progressive human rights instrument, reflecting on the origins and progress of the treaty across 20 years.
In addition, the event heralded the women who have shaped Africa over the years and was punctuated with song and dance. This culminated with the unveiling of the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards winners.
The event kicked off with a speech from HE Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Deputy Chairperson for the African Union Commission, who reminded us of the Maputo Protocol’s unyielding pursuit of equality.
“We have 44 out of 54 member states that have ratified the Maputo Protocol. It is an achievement on its own. We should never forget the immense contribution of women in liberating their countries. Let us look forward with determination and commitment to the future.”
From dignitaries to spirited gender-rights advocates from around the world who echoed Nzanzabaganwa’s sentiments in their remarks, the event sparked thought-provoking discussions on implementing the protocol. Side events buzzed with innovation, showcasing the challenges and triumphs of women’s rights across the continent. To celebrate the gains made over the past 20 years, SOAWR recognised organisations and individuals that have made the Maputo Protocol worth celebrating through the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards Ceremony.
The 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards
The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) launched the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards in partnership with Equality Now to commemorate Africa Day and the 20th Anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol).
The 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards recognized and celebrated twenty individuals and organizations who have made exceptional contributions towards the promotion and uptake of the Maputo Protocol at Africa’s national, regional, and continental levels.
The call for nominees was launched on May 25 on Africa Day, calling for the public to vote for those whom they truly believed had contributed to the advancement of gender equality as espoused in the Maputo Protocol under 10 categories, including the Normative Change Category, Resilience Category, Access to Justice Category, Women’s ECOSOC Rights Category, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Category, SGBV, VAWG and Ending Harmful Practices Category, Women’s Political Rights Category, Inclusion and Diversity Category, Young Women’s Category, and the Solidarity for Equality Category. The response was resounding. In just under 4 weeks, the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards had garnered close to 500 nominations.
18 Awardees were feted during the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards Dinner and Gala that took place in Nairobi, Kenya and graced by high-level dignitaries from various parts of the world.
20 Years of the Maputo Protocol: Where Are We Now?
The culmination of the Maputo at 20 celebrations was punctuated by the release of a groundbreaking report titled ’20 years of the Maputo Protocol: Where are we now?’. Within its pages, the report prepared by the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR), Equality Now and Make Every Woman Count documented triumphs and tribulations that shed light on the intricate dance between advancement and obstruction. Additionally, the report wove together the evidence of proven recommendations, illuminating a path towards a future where gender equality reigns supreme on the African continent.
However, as the report uncovers, not all provisions of the Maputo Protocol have been fully implemented. Some states have submitted reservations, seeking to modify the legal impact of certain provisions. While not the ideal situation, human rights campaigners concur that ‘allowing reservations is a better alternative to non-adoption of the protocol altogether’, a nuanced dance between compromise and unwavering commitment to women’s rights.
Currently, 44 out of 55 African Union Member states have ratified the protocol, showcasing a remarkable collective dedication. Notably, countries such as Botswana, Egypt, and Morocco are yet to sign, while Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Madagascar, Niger, Somalia, and Sudan have signed but await ratification.
Though progress is evident, the journey towards full implementation is not without its challenges.
The report highlights a crucial barrier: the deeply entrenched societal beliefs that perpetuate gender disparities and impede women’s participation in education and decision-making processes.
The report resounds with resolute recommendations that reverberate with unwavering determination. One powerful recommendation calls for the passage of robust family laws, fortifying the shield of protection around women’s rights and ensuring their well-being before, during, and after marriage. The report echoes the urgent need to enlist men and boys as staunch allies, actively engaging them in the pursuit of economic and social welfare rights for women, creating a harmonious symphony of progress. Amidst sensitive debates, the report advocates for a cautious yet compassionate approach towards addressing the right to abortion, recognising the complex nuances that surround this deeply personal choice.
Furthermore, it underscores the vital importance of investing in the capacity of states, equipping them with the tools to report with clarity and precision, fostering transparency and bolstering accountability.
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They say a photo is worth a thousand words. Journey through this photo gallery execution on the Maputo Protocol Celebrations.