Celebrating 20 Years of the Maputo Protocol and Advancing Women’s Rights in Africa


On this day, the 11th of July 2023, we celebrate a great milestone for women of Africa, 20 years since the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women (Maputo protocol).  This is a one-of-a-kind regional instrument in Africa that focuses solely on the rights of women and girls.  It is broad in its provisions, encompassing many rights and protections as well as pathways to access justice.  Its adoption was indeed a profound undertaking by the Africa Union members to acknowledge the rights of African women.

To celebrate this milestone, RWI Regional Africa Program is organising a Regional Academic Conference on the theme, Women’s rights, Gender Inequality, and Intersectional vulnerabilities.  This timely conference to be held in September 2023 at the University of Stellenbosch, will bring together Africa’s Regional Human Rights Bodies, Academics from eight universities in Africa, lawyers, researchers, and members of the civil society.  The conference will provide a platform to discuss matters women’s rights under various sub themes such as: – the jurisprudential developments on women rights within Africa regional and sub regional human rights bodies, feminist jurisprudence emanating from these regional and sub regional human rights bodies,  queer women jurisprudence,  methods of interpretation in human and women’s rights adjudication, protection of minority and indigenous women and girls and implementation of decisions of regional and sub regional bodies on women rights.  Further, the conference will also provide an opportunity to discuss existing systematic and structural barriers for women in their efforts to access justice and emerging drivers of exacerbating vulnerabilities and marginalisation for women and girls in Africa.  After the conference, RWI plans to publish the papers presented in a peer reviewed journal that will be open access.

In addition to the annual regional Africa conference, RWI offers an opportunity for mentorship of emerging scholars and early career researchers who have submitted their papers for the conference. The mentorship is to help them build their research and writing skills as well as engage deeply with the conference theme.  One of the many mentorship activities is a research and methodology workshop.  During the said workshop, held in May this year, the emerging scholars and early career researchers got an opportunity to learn about feminist legal theory as well as substantive and transformative equality provided for in the Maputo protocol.  This was taught by a leading scholar in the field, Prof Rudman from University of Stellenbosch, who is a member of our Academic Network. The participants also benefitted from a presentation by the senior research officer of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Oluwatosin Nguher who made a presentation on “reflections on the Maputo Protocol in the adjudication of rights within the African Human Rights System: Ecowas Court. The participants also got an opportunity to connect with each other, getting feedback on their topics of research as well as engaging more purposely with the Maputo protocol under the coaching of the Academic Network.

In conclusion, as we celebrate this milestone of 20 years anniversary, RWI regional office in Nairobi through its Academic Network desires to continue engaging with the protocol through creating intersectoral dialogue among academics, Africa regional human rights bodies, legal practitioners, civil society members and researchers to propel awareness, research, pedagogy, and implementation of Maputo Protocol and thus propel the equality and rights of women in Africa.

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