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FEMNET calls on AU to hasten policies on women ahead of Kigali summit

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By Steve Umidha
Regional African women Networks want Africa Union Heads of states to make firm and substantive commitments to ratify the Maputo Protocol and fast-track existing policies on African women and girls.
An open letter to Heads of States, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) alongside the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) and a multitude of women’s rights organizations in the region, urged African Heads of state have the remaining six months of the year to firmly accede to crucial policies that govern the rights for women in their countries.
“It is time for the African Union member States to understand that Equal Rights and Justice for women are non-negotiable. Every government worth its legitimacy must prioritize the implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Maputo Protocol) to affirm its willingness to uphold and safeguard the status of its women”, said Dinah Musindarwezo, the Executive Director of FEMNET.
“It is an opportune moment for governments that even the African Union itself saw it worthy to specifically dedicate the year 2016 to the advancement of women with particular focus on women’s rights and justice”, she added.
As the African Union Heads of States Summit meets in Kigali this week, FEMNET has unveiled a compelling online campaign dubbed #FollowTheProtocol to aggressively marshal mass support to lobby governments to sign, ratify and domesticate the Maputo Protocol.
“We are amplifying our call to governments because most of them have ignored or have abdicated their responsibilities in fulfilling their obligations to women and girls as outlined in a number of policy frameworks including within the current 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals as well as the AU Agenda 2063”, said Dinah.
The women’s networks want governments, without reservations to work towards the universal ratification of the Maputo Protocol, to include both state and non-state actors in the ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol and to commit to reporting and strengthening country-specific monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess progress and impact of the implementation of the Protocol.
Resource allocation
The women especially want African governments to commit and allocate the necessary resources for implementing all the adopted policies related to justice and equality for women and girls.
“It is not enough to merely say you are committed to justice and equal rights for women and girls. That declaration needs to be followed with the right budgetary allocation and assurance for direct implementation. This is the only way our governments will be accountable”, said Dinah.
Kavinya Makau, the Coordinator of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition, is emphatic that African Heads of State will formulate and adopt policies that will be in line with global agendas key to the advancement of women and girls.
“Africa must be aligned to the global progression on the advancement of women as is envisioned globally. Alongside the Maputo Protocol, our governments must harness the processes for the African Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals. It will be a huge disappointment if we as a continent lag behind in realizing these goals”, said Kavinya.
At the launch of the #FollowtheProtocol campaign, on 8th July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, FEMNET will call out countries that are yet to sign and ratify the Maputo Protocol and highlight the status of those in the process of domestication.

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