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14 Nov | Women's rights in Africa: Launch event of General Comment No. 6 on Art. 7 (d) of the Maputo Protocol (FR)

14 Nov | Women's rights in Africa: Launch event of General Comment No. 6 on Art. 7 (d) of the Maputo Protocol (FR)

14 Nov | Women's rights in Africa: Launch event of General Comment No. 6 on Art. 7 (d) of the Maputo Protocol (FR)

 

This Saturday 14 November 2020, a high-level panel convened by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of women in Africa and gathering State Delegates, NHRIs, civil society organisations, media and academics, will officially launch General Comment No. 6 on Article 7 (d) of the Maputo Protocol. This soft law instrument aims to enhance the protection of the rights of women in cases of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, and in particular, the woman’s right to an equitable sharing of the joint property deriving from the marriage in such circumstance.

The event particularly aims at raising awareness generally on the rights of women as provided under the Maputo Protocol, publicizing the immense contribution of the Commission in this regard including the development of soft law instruments including General Comment No. 6, and encouraging all stakeholders to make effective use of General Comment No. 6 and other soft law instruments developed by the Commission on the Rights of Women.

The panelists/speakers will make brief presentations touching on various aspects relating to the history, process, output and content of the final product. This will be followed by an interactive discussion on the General Comment. Thereafter, the participants will be invited to join the Commission in launching General Comment No. 6.

Read more on the history and background of the General Comment at the bottom of this page.

The panelists

  • Commissioner Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi  – Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa

  • Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor – Former Commissioner and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa

  • Sylvia Noagbesenu, Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED – Africa)

  • Patience Mungwari, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (CHR)

  • Marie Saine, Legal Officer to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women

Moderator

  • Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso – Chairperson

Civil Society Representative

  • Mayra Gómez, former Co-Executive Director of GI-ESCR, will be participating in the official launch in representation of the group of Civil Society Organizations that were engaged in the development of the General Comment.

Date and time

Saturday 14 November 2020, 11.15am GMT

Background

The General Comment further develops regional human rights standards, specifically looking at women’s rights to property in cases of separation, divorce, or annulment of marriage. In it, the ACHPR recognizes that separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, have specific economic consequences for women, and that many countries in Africa continue to apply discriminatory laws, policies and practices which continue to systematically disadvantage women. 

Organizations working globally and throughout Africa advocated for several years in support of the General Comment, hoping that it will lead to the clarification of various legal issues pertaining to women’s rights to property and in turn to the improvement of the ways in which women are treated across the continent. 


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Open the General Comment in  Arabic - Portuguese


The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would like to acknowledge and express deep gratitude to Mayra Gómez, former Co-Executive Director of GI-ESCR for her decade-long leadership and advocacy work on the crucial question of women’s equal rights and the advancement of gender justice. Her legacy allows us to be celebrating today the achievement of the General Comment No. 6, a tool that will certainly contribute greatly to improve the status of all women across Africa.

 "The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has ushered in a landmark norm for the rights of women across Africa with the adoption of this General Comment.  The African Commission has sent a clear message that African women cannot be discriminated against at the time of divorce or separation, and that they have an equal right to marital property. The General Comment itself could not have been achieved without the ongoing commitment and perseverance of a range of partners and women's rights advocates, from all across the Continent. It took literally years of dedicated work.  It is our sincere hope that African women, and African girls born today and into the future, will have a brighter future because of this watershed achievement."   

Mayra Gómez, Former Co-Executive Director of GI-ESCR.

History and BACKGROUND

At the 38th Ordinary Session held from 26 April to 5 May 1999, in Bujumbura, Burundi, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) adopted Resolution ACHPR/Res.38 (XXV) 99 designating a Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.  The objective of this resolution was the Commission’s resolve to place particular emphasis on the problems and rights specific to women in Africa. This was also supported by the existence of regional and International instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which seek to protect the rights of women.

Given the mandate to focus specifically on the problems and rights of women, the Special Rapporteur has over the years worked with the Commission as a collegiate body, its stakeholders and partners to effectively implement the mandate in line with Article 45 of the Charter. In doing so, the Commission has through the work of the Special Rapporteur contributed immensely in promoting and protecting the rights of women and key amongst these is the development of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). It has also adopted several thematic resolutions touching on issues affecting the rights of women in Africa, developed specific guidelines, General Comments and conducted studies to better protect the rights of women in Africa an carried out, or participated in many promotional activities on the rights of women.

Despite the important work of the mandate over the years, the Commission recognizes the fact that Women in Africa are still grappling with many issues that continue to have a negative impact on the enjoyment of various human rights for women such as lack of access to land and other productive resources. The Commission is also concerned that regional and international legal and policy instruments have not been sufficient in setting out a clear foundation for women’s rights to access to, use of and control over land and other productive resources. Therefore pursuant to its mandate under Article 45 of the Charter, the Commission felt the urgent need to clarify various legal issues pertaining to women’s property rights and equality in marriage, particularly in cases of separation, divorce or annulment of a marriage; including clarity on the legal obligations of States so as to establish a continent-wide standard based on human rights principles.

At its 24th Extraordinary Session held  from 30 July to 8 August 2018, in Banjul, The Gambia, the Commission adopted  resolution ACHPR/Res. 401 (EXT.OS/ XXIV) 2018 on the development of General Comments on Article 7 (d) of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa mandating the Special Rapporteur to elaborate General Comments on Article 7 (d) of the Maputo Protocol which would among other things, require State Parties to enact appropriate legislation to ensure that women and men enjoy the same rights in case of separation, divorce or annulment of marriage, and that women and men shall have the right to an equitable sharing of the joint property deriving from the marriage in such circumstances. The Resolution also mandated the Special rapporteur to collaborate with relevant stakeholders working on issues of land and property rights in executing the assignment.

The Special Rapporteur joined forces with some of its stakeholders and partners including the Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED-Africa), Global Initiative for Economic Social and Cultural Rights, (GI-ESCR), Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and FIDA-Kenya in developing General Comment No. 6 which was adopted by the Commission at its 27th Extraordinary Session held from 19 February to 4 March 2020 in Banjul, The Gambia.

 

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