Inaugural Africa Gender Equality Moot Court Competition - May 2021 - Equality Now
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Inaugural Africa Gender Equality Moot Court Competition - May 2021

Equality Now, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) and the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) School of Law hosted the virtual Inaugural Africa Gender Equality Moot Court Competition (IAGEMCC) from 17th to 21st May 2021. The IAGEMCC is the first moot court to be dedicated solely to the rights of women and girls in Africa.

The competition saw participation by 53 students   from 7 African countries: Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and  Uganda. The English component of the competition saw the participation of a total of 11 teams while the French component of the competition saw the participation of 8 student teams. The teams battled their way from the Preliminary Rounds of the Competition to the Quarterfinals, Semi-finals, and eventually the Final Rounds which were held on 20th May 2021. 

  • Best Team (English) - Mowbrey Nelson-Jones and Esther Farodoye, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)
  • Best Team (French) - Abdoulaye Dicko, Adiawiakoye Ibrahim and Adiawiakoye Mahala, Université des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques de Bamako
  • Runner-Up (English) - Maria Patience Asiimwe and Arthur Taremwa, Makerere University
  • Runner-Up (French) - Fandahon Frejus, Dokpomiwa Rose and Auriol Ngoma, Université de Parakou

The Competition further saw the participants present well articulated memorials highlighting the jurisdiction and admissibility arguments as well as the Merits of the hypothetical case.

  • Best Memorial (English) - Kenson Mutethya and Celestine Chweya, Catholic University of Eastern Africa
  • Best Memorial (French) - Fandohan Fréjus, Dokpomiwa Rose and Ngoma Aureole, Université de Parakou
  • Runner-Up (English) - Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
  • Runner-Up (French) - Karim Mohamed, Seidou Saidath and Biao Ezékias, Université de Parakou

Analysing the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on State Responsibility for Women and Girls’ Rights in Africa

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the theme of the competition was Analysing the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on State Responsibility for Women and Girls’ Rights in Africa. The theme aimed to foster conversations on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the promotion, fulfilment and respect of women and girls’ rights. The moot court questions, and the hypothetical case were drawn from this theme, offering the depth and breadth to engage as many innovative approaches on the question of enforcement of the Maputo Protocol as possible.

The competition question was centred on the obligation placed upon states to promote and protect the rights of women under the Maputo Protocol by taking active steps through adoption and full implementation of national legislation and policies vis-a-vis dealing with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic such as the rise in domestic and gender-based violence, overwhelmed health care systems and grave effects to the economy.

The Competition was set before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Competitors were encouraged to leverage the unique legal and social contexts of their own country to craft arguments and approaches aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges faced in the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls while learning from the experiences and contexts of other participants.

The 43 competition judges were drawn from a pool of renowned African academics, jurists, legal practitioners and women’s rights advocates.

The final round of the English component of the competition, was judged by:

  • Commissioner Lawrence Mute (Former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information as well as the immediate former Vice Chairperson of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights)
  • Dr Satang Nabaneh (Program Manager of the Master’s and Doctorate Programs in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights at the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
  • Sibongile Ndashe (Executive Director and Founder of Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa)
  • Dr Ashwanee Budoo (Program Manager of the Master’s and Doctorate Programs in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa at the Center for Human Rights)
  • Harrison Mbori (Former Lecturer and Moot Coordinator at Strathmore University, Doctorate Fellow at Loyola University and Researcher at Max Planck Institute).

The final round of the French component was judged by:

  • Rainatou Sow (Executive Director of Make Every Woman Count)
  • Dr Morissanda Kouyate (Executive Director of Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices and Public Health Doctor, Health Trainer and Expert on Female Genital Mutilation)
  • Prof Pacifique Manirakiza (Professor at Ottawa University and Former Commissioner at the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights)
  • Samia Melki Fessi (President of Kadirat Tunisia)
  • Eric Bizimana (Senior Legal Officer at the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa)

Inspiring the next generation of women’s rights activists across Africa

The week-long event was aimed at the next generation of legal practitioners, fostering and cultivating their interest in the rights of women and girls in Africa, particularly the role continental and international human rights instruments play in the enforcement, promotion, and protection of these rights. The IAGEMCC challenged students to engage in comparative research of legal standards at regional, continental, and international levels and to develop their written and oral arguments on cutting-edge questions on the intersection between the rights of women and girls in Africa and both continental and international law.

During the Closing Ceremony, one of the student participants unequivocally stated that he has learnt more about women’s rights and will consider a career in human rights litigation after graduating from law school. Mr Waikwa Wanyoike, who judged the semi-finals of the competition and was a panelist during the closing ceremony provided words of encouragement by talking about the power of public interest litigation stating that “petitions have the power to change the lives of masses of people, just because one person decided to sit down somewhere and strategically note down violations that were taking place and how redress ought to be given.”

This may have been the first Africa Gender Equality Moot Court Competition, but it won’t be the last. Equality Now and the Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition (SOAWR) remain committed to inspiring the next generation of women’s rights advocates across Africa; we hope to hold similar moot court competitions in the future.

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