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Breathing Life into the Maputo Protocol: Case Digest – Jurisprudence on the Rights of Women and Girls in Africa

This Digest aims to promote the use of one of the world’s most comprehensive and progressive human rights instruments – the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol or the Protocol).

The Maputo Protocol was adopted by member States of the African Union in Maputo, Mozambique on 11 July 2003, with the aim “to ensure that the rights of women are protected in order to enable them to enjoy fully all their human rights”.

The Protocol builds on existing international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), but also goes beyond these instruments to address the unique human rights challenges faced by women and girls in the African
context.

This Digest is an analysis of specific court decisions from various jurisdictions in African States and in regional human rights mechanisms that have referred to or implemented the Maputo Protocol. It summarizes relevant cases that have applied provisions of the Maputo Protocol, and provides a commentary on key cases. This Digest aims to facilitate the use of and reliance on the provisions of the Maputo Protocol by judicial officers and legal practitioners, by equipping them with the necessary knowledge of existing jurisprudence in relation to the Maputo Protocol. It seeks to provide a tool that judges and magistrates can use as a reference point in anchoring their decisions involving women and girls’ rights, and that legal practitioners can use to argue that courts must refer to provisions of the Maputo Protocol to guide their decisions on the rights of women and girls.

We hope that this Digest serves as a useful tool in the fight to ensure that the rights and protections guaranteed under the Maputo Protocol become a reality for women and girls across Africa.