27th AU Summit: Women leaders call for gender equality in Africa

From Left: Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa, AUC Chairperson Dr Dlamini-Zuma and Rwanda’s Gender minister Diane Gashumba at the meeting.

The Maputo Protocol, also known as the “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa”, is a set of rules to be followed by States that are party to it in efforts to protect women against violence and exploitation.

A call to governments and citizens across the continent was made in Kigali by women leaders and other experts from Africa and other parts of the world to expedite the implementation of policies and laws that promote equality between men and women and empower the latter with the view to meet the same goal.

This was during the two-day 3rd African Union High-Level Panel on Gender and Women’s Empowerment in Rwanda’s capital Kigali at the Parliament Buildings that ran between July 9th –July 10th.

The meeting facilitated discussions on how policies and laws on gender equality in Africa can be turned into daily practices.

AUC Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, challenged fellow women leaders on the continent to be more assertive and passionate about their advocacy for better protection of women’s rights.

She urged them to ensure that practical results are achieved every day in terms of implementing policies and laws in favor of gender equality.

“It is our collective duty not to let our struggles become a routine,” Dlamini-Zuma said, reminding women that demanding their rights shouldn’t be seen as too much to ask or a favor to be given on charitable grounds.

“We are equal (with men) in our own right. We are not taking anything from anyone,” she said.

The Maputo Protocol contains instructions about a number of areas for the protection of women, such as the elimination of discrimination against them, upholding their right to dignity, life, and security, as well as their right to harmless treatment, marriage, and access to justice, among other rights.

It also emphasizes women’s right to participate in the political and decision-making processes in their countries, their right to peace and protection during armed conflicts as well as their right to education and training, economic and social welfare, housing and food, and health and reproductive health, among other forms of protection.

Rwanda, host of the 27th AU Summit, remains a shining example of gender equality and women empowerment. The country’s Lower House is dominated by women who occupy 64 per cent of the seats while the Judiciary is also women inclusive, at 40 per cent, while 43 per cent of district councilors are women.