A guide to using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for legal action

A guide to using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for legal action

Equality Now, on behalf of Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), has published this guide to using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for legal action. The protocol is a supplementary protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and it came into force in 2005. It sets out a broad range of economic and social rights,including rights to equal pay for equal work and to adequate and paid maternity
leave in both the public and private sectors. It endorses affirmative action to promote the equal participation
of women at all levels of decision-making and calls for equal participation of women in law enforcement and the judiciary. It recognizes the right of women to participate in the promotion and maintenance of peace. It is the first international law instrument to call for an end to all forms of violence against women, whether in private or in public, including sexual harassment; prohibit all forms of female genital mutilation; protect women’s right to seek abortion under certain conditions; prohibit forced marriages; and specify 18 years as the minimum age of marriage.

This manual aims to facilitate the exercise of the rights set out in the Women’s Rights Protocol by providing  step-by-step guidance for using the protocol at both national and regional levels. It provides information on using the protocol in cases brought before domestic courts, and explains how to bring complaints of violations of the protocol to regional mechanisms such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The manual summarizes key cases on issues relevant to women’s rights decided by the African Commission and other relevant regional or international human rights mechanisms to give practitioners a sense of international and regional jurisprudence on women’s rights.

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