The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the rights of Women in Africa commonly referred to as The Maputo Protocol was adopted in Mozambique on July 11, 2003. It went into effect in November 2005 after 15 of the 53 African Union Member States Ratified it.
It is indeed a positive step towards combating discrimination and violence against women and significant in the efforts to promote and ensure respect for the rights of African Women.
The Maputo Protocol came out of the realization that women's rights in Africa were often marginalized especially in the context of human rights and thus the need for an international binding instrument addressing and protecting their rights. The protocol among others requires African governments to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in Africa, and to promote equality between men and women. Member States are obliged to integrate a gender perspective in their policy decisions, legislation, development plans, and activities, and to ensure the overall well being of women.
The main articles of the Maputo Protocol include the Elimination of discrimination against women; Right to dignity; Right to life, integrity and security of the person; Elimination of harmful practices(especially Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other traditional practices that are harmful to women); Marriage, separation, divorce and annulment of marriage; Access to justice and equal protection before the law; Right to Participation in the Political and Decision-Making; Process Right to Peace Protection of Women in Armed Conflicts; Right to Education and Training; Economic and Social Welfare Rights ;Health and Reproductive Rights ;Right to Food Security; Right to Adequate Housing; Right to Positive Cultural Context; Right to a Healthy and Sustainable Environment; Right to Sustainable Development ;Widows' Rights ; Right to Inheritance; Special Protection of Elderly Women; Special Protection of Women with Disabilities; Special Protection of Women in Distress; and Remedies.
Its important to note that there are two contentious issues in the Maputo Protocol which have brought about its opposition; the article on reproductive health, especially on legalization of abortion, which is mainly opposed by Catholics and other Christians and the provisions on female genital mutilation, polygamous marriages and other traditional practices. These are some of the reasons that have led to the slow ratification of the protocol by many African states. Of the 53 African Union Member states, 46 have so far signed the Protocol and as of January 2013, 36th African countries have ratified it. Four Countries have neither signed nor ratified the Maputo Protocol.
States that have signed:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia
States that have Ratified:
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland
States that have neither signed nor ratified:
Botswana, Egypt, Eritrea and Tunisia.
To read the Maputo Protocol document, please click here