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African leaders have endorsed human rights in national, regional, continental and international instruments. However, the effective implementation of key AU human rights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, by the majority of member states is still lagging behind the agreed targets. Upholding of human and women’s rights remains a responsibility of all stakeholders but most especially a primary responsibility of Governments who are the duty bearers. Thus the 2016 AU theme “African Year of Human Rights, with specific focus on Women’s Rights” provides an opportunity for the African leaders with strong participation of civil society, especially African women and other actors to assess the implementation of these key instruments and redefine the future of the continent and its population – men and women, boys and girls.
The parliament of Sierra Leone passed the Safe Abortion Bill sometime in December 2015 and it was forwarded to the President for signature but he declined to sign it.
Arise and stand in solidarity for women’s human rights by signing this online petition, aimed at appealing to members of parliament to maintain their recent positive and progressive vote in favour of the Safe Abortion Bill and to quickly pass the bill into law.
Deadline for the Sign-on on the online petition: 31st January 2016
13th January, 2016
To: Hon. Sheku Badara Basiru Dumbuya, Speaker
Hon. Chernor M. Bah, Deputy Speaker
Hon Ibrahim Bundu, Majority Leader
Hon. Leonard S. Fofanah, Deputy Majority Leader
Hon. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader
Hon. AnsumanaJaiaKaikai, Deputy Minority Leader
Hon. Claude D.M Kamanda, Chief Whip
Hon. Sidie Tunis, Minority Chief Whip
Hon. Hannah B. Songowa, Deputy Chief Whip
Hon. Jusufu B. Mansaray, Deputy Minority Whip
Hon. Ibrahim S.Sesay, Clerk of Parliament
We write today to commend the Parliament of Sierra Leone for its recent vote in favour of the Safe Abortion Bill and urge quick passage of the bill into law. This landmark bill allows us to envision the elimination of unsafe abortion in Sierra Leone and the many deaths and injuries it causes. With the passage of the Safe Abortion Act 2015, Sierra Leone will join with other African nations as leaders taking the most direct and effective action possible to reduce maternal mortality and affirm women’s human rights.
We in Africa should be ashamed that our women continue to die of unsafe abortion when safe abortion is such a clear and attainable solution. Yet almost all 47,000 women who die every year from unsafe abortion are in developing countries, with African women at the highest risk. Without access to safe and legal abortion, women become desperate and procure clandestine procedures in unsafe settings. The epidemic of unsafe abortion has left women injured or disabled. It has resulted in families being broken by the loss of the mother.
We applaud the Parliament of Sierra Leone for saying definitively through the Safe Abortion Bill that it cannot sit by while women die needlessly from unsafe abortion.Though opposed by a few loud voices, members of Parliament have had the courage to stand firm in protecting the people of Sierra Leone from harm. We urge you to sign the bill into law and begin saving lives now.
With the passage of this legislation, the Parliament will also be affirming its commitment to the Protocol to the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), commonly known as the Maputo Protocol. Article 3 of the protocol affirms women’s rights to dignity, life, integrity and security of person and Article 14 protects the reproductive rights of women including the right to safe abortion. Sierra Leone ratified the Maputo Protocol this past summer, and this law ensures that Sierra Leone will meet and lead in its commitments to African nations and peoples.
Again, we celebrate and congratulate the Parliament for its strong and clear steps to protect women’s health and dignity. Sierra Leone stands as a champion within Africa for women’s health and rights and a model for numerous other countries that are unwilling to take this bold and important step for what is good and right.
Petition prepared by:-
Ipas Africa Alliance: Contact: Lucy Lugalia: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Communication Network: Contact: Dinah Musindarwezo: email@example.com and Hellen Malinga Apila: firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 25, 2015, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) will launch the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. Along with over 5,478 organizations and other participants from 187 countries and territories, CWGL is calling for an end to gender-based violence and accountability on the part of policymakers and community members to end violence, discrimination, and inequality.
The 16 Days Campaign is a powerful platform to educate the public and governments about gender-based violence, human rights, and the intersections of political, economic, and social realities.
CWGL is sharing resources, coordinating with global participants on their actions and hosting a social media mobilization with a Twitter “teach-in.” To participate, contact the global coordinator at email@example.com and follow @16DaysCampaign. Use the #16Days and #GBVteachin hashtags to join the discussion.
For more information, visit http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu.
“all we want is to better ourselves as well as break the cycle of poverty – mobilizing and uniting our struggles, interwoven with bigger struggles for economic transformation and social cohesion”
Students shook the South African nation to its very core this week as protests swept across campuses with the so-called born frees at the helm. “Shutting Down the Rainbow Nation” is a ten minute documentary that captures the energy and heart of the student-led movement, which shut down higher education institutions around the country. It speaks to the policing of the black body, state violence, and the fall of the ‘rainbow nation’, sewn together with videos posted by the public on Twitter and Facebook throughout the shutdown. History was re-written this week, as it became clear that even though the revolution may not have been (adequately) televised, it was certainly tweeted.
On this International Day of Rural Women, we the undersigned organisations, call on African governments to ensure that rural women are a central focus in the implementation of the newly adopted sustainable development goals, including by addressing the social and cultural factors which prevent their access, control and use of land.
Today, 15 October, marks the sixth International Day of Rural Women. The day was established by the United Nations (UN) in 2008 to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, in improving food security and eradicating poverty. In two days, we commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, the two international days fall just weeks after 193 member states of the UN unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of 17 goals with specific targets aimed at, among other things, addressing poverty and increasing economic growth and prosperity, while protecting the environment. Of the numerous targets, three of these –1.4, 2.3 and 5.a – specifically relate to women’s access to land.
Currently, most African countries are rural in nature and it is estimated that 75% – 90% of land is held under traditional rules, customs and practices. Most of these traditional rules, customs and practices mean rural women can only access land through their relationships to men as wives, daughters and sisters. Sadly, the majority of African rural women lose their rights to maternal family land when they move to join their husbands upon marriage, and lose access to marital land upon divorce or death of the husband.
Discriminatory rules, customs and practices have a negative impact not only on African rural women, but the entire African continent. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), rural women in sub-Saharan Africa produce most of the food in the region and yet, due to discrimination, they neither own nor have rights to the land they cultivate.[i] This has negative implications for basic food production and the eradication of poverty. Unequal land rights further reinforce women’s secondary status within the community, perpetuate poverty and foster power imbalances.
African governments have legally and morally bound themselves, through a number of international instruments and policy frameworks, produced by both the African Union and the UN, to safeguard the rights of rural women to land on an equal basis to men. In restricting these rights many African countries are breaking international law.
A handful of countries in Africa have taken positive steps towards ending discrimination and protecting women’s land rights. For example, in the Constitution of Mozambique, women have equal rights to use and benefit from land and are joint owners of community title. Kenya’s new Constitution and land policy provides for joint ownership of marital property and equal succession rights for men and women.
However, despite these few positive steps, much more needs to be done. We, the undersigned organisations, call on African governments to ensure that rural women are not neglected in the implementation of the sustainable development goals and that these goals take into account human rights treaties entered into by the governments. Parliaments must act to ensure that laws guarantee women’s equal rights to access, use and control over land. Furthermore, courts must uphold basic principles of equality, including in relation to land rights for rural women.
To be effective, legislation and land reform policies should both focus on rural women’s right to the access, use and control of land, as well as the lack of knowledge, cultural and social factors that prevent rural women from obtaining secure rights to land. We therefore further call on governments to ensure such legislation and land reform policies are gender responsive and take into account women’s historically disadvantaged socio-economic position compared to men.
For further information contact:
Brigadier Siachitema, Women’s Land and Property Rights Lawyer, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), BrigadierS@salc.org.za, +2710 596 8538