Category Archives: AU Protocol

Join & Follow Panel Discussion: Implement NOW #WomensRights Commitments #26thAUSummit

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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.

You  Are  Invited to a Panel Discussion by FEMNET, SOAWR & MEWC

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#womensrights #safeabortion #srhr Sierra Leone Safe Abortion Bill: SIGN-ON Online Letter to Petition Parliament

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Join and support our sisters in Sierra Leone at this critical time by Signing-On this Online Petition.

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: guthriee@ipas.org

SOAWR – Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition

FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Communication Network: Contact: Dinah Musindarwezo: director@femnet.or.ke and Hellen Malinga Apila: advocacy@femnet.or.ke

Young and Capable: Why Young People Must be at the Centre of Efforts to End Child Marriage

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End CEFMAs I packed my bags to begin a journey that would take me several thousand miles from my hometown in Nairobi to Casablanca, I shuddered at the thought that at the very same moment, a girl not much younger than me would begin a similar journey – an arranged marriage. The marriage would be most likely without her consent. This day would mark the end of her childhood and the beginning of a long nightmare that would quickly become her life. By the time my flight would touch down in Casablanca, 18 hours later, she would probably have consummated a marriage in which neither her mind nor her body was prepared for. The thought of this made me sick to my stomach. With this harsh reality in my mind, I joined fellow participants at the Girls Not Brides members’ meeting, resolute that ending child marriage will not be possible unless and until young people are meaningfully involved and supported.

What is Child Marriage?
Child marriage is global phenomenon defined as a formal marriage or informal union in which one of the spouses is married before the age of 18. While child marriage can affect boys and girls, it disproportionately affects the girl child. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that every year, more than 14 million adolescent and teen girls are married, almost always forced into the arrangement by their parents. It is a violation of young women’s rights and one of a number of harmful practices which harm young women worldwide. The implications of this practice on the lives of girls are many and far-reaching. Child marriage perpetuates the cycle of poverty and deep rooted gender inequalities that often lead to society having a perceived low value for women and girls. When girls are forced to marry, they often drop out of school, face serious health complications and even risk dying from early pregnancy and childbearing, and are at greater risk of HIV infection and intimate partner violence. Child brides are often isolated, with limited opportunity to engage socially and to participate in the economic development of their communities.

Young People Are Saying NO to child marriage
While the problem of child marriage is complex and sensitive, young people hold the potential to catapult worldwide efforts in addressing the problem.

First, child marriage is an issue that directly impacts the lives of young people. As such, we are able to articulate the issues in a way no adult can. Listening to young people’s voices in general is powerful in so many ways. It not only helps create a better, equal and more inclusive society but also allows young people to feel important, empowered and confident to become their own leaders. This is often leads to successful advocacy as recently witnessed in Malawi where young activists played a critical role in raising for the minimum legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years of age in Malawi.

Secondly, young people continue to play a key role in monitoring and averting potential child marriage cases. Where countries have had laws in place to criminalize the practice, young people have been able to support each other by reporting cases of child marriages to the authorities, providing support networks, assisting peers access safe spaces and changing norms and attitudes. In a recent youth survey done by Girls Not Brides, a young participant from Uganda said: “We know who is at risk of child marriage; we hear the conversations that adults do not. Let us be the eyes and ears and the actors demanding that young people are allowed to fulfill their potential”

Lastly, by speaking out against child marriage, young people become strong role models for their peers. Kakenya Ntaiya shares her fearless journey of how escaping child marriage changed her fate forever. Through her story, Kakenya continues to inspire, motivate and empower young girls to pursue education so that they become agents of change. In 2013, she was nominated as a Top 10 CNN Hero, for her work to send girls to school and delay marriage in Enoosaen, a Maasai village in south-west Kenya. Her primary school, Kakenya Center for Excellence, currently hosts over 155 girls.

From small actions at the village level to global advocacy efforts, the positive examples of young change makers working towards ending child marriage in the community are vast and varying.

The Time to Act is NOW!
Engaging young people to end child marriage is not only the right thing to do but it is also the practical thing to do. By tapping into their knowledge and insights, diverse skills in not only mobilizing at different levels but also engaging with different groups and their potential of catalyzing behavior change in the society, the fight to end child marriage can gain a new impetus. This can be successfully nurtured through genuine youth-adult relationships, opportunities that develop meaningful skills though continual capacity building and technical support, access to decision-making platforms and safe spaces that provide emotional and physical security.

As I believe, it is possible to end child marriage in our generation. Together, let us banish child marriage to the books of history, where it belongs.

Follow @Femnetprog @GirlsNotBrides & @felogene on twitter for updates on International Day of The African Child – June 16 2015 . THEME ”25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa”

Education Under Attack: #147NotJustaNumber #BringBackOurGirls

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By Felogene Anumo

“Getting a good education is my best bet out of poverty,” said a 16- year old in Narok county in Kenya. Yet, on that fateful morning of 2nd April 2005 at Garissa University in Kenya, the dreams of 147 lives and their families were shattered into pieces. As I followed the events unfolding that morning and subsequent media coverage, I was overcome by a deep sadness and anger by the loss of young lives. Lives of young people and families who were filled with hope and promise that education brings.

Education Under Attack

We live in a world characterized by uncertainty, complexity and rapid change. For many young people, and more often in developing countries, education is the base and its importance for self and society cannot be overstated. For me, the decision of attackers to target institutions of learning where tolerance, co-existence and unity is fostered is both frightening and enraging. The Kenyan attack comes at a time when just a few months back, 20 teachers were killed in Mandera on their way to Nairobi for the Christmas break.

Bring Back Our Girls - One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET
Bring Back Our Girls – One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET

Regionally, we have witnessed similar attacks by extremists. Tomorrow, 14 April 2015, marks one year since the schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria were abducted by militant group, Boko Haram.  Despite a global campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, more than 300 young women are still under the hands of their abductors since their abduction from their school dormitories. A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls. Globally, the world is still recovering from the massacre in Peshawar School in December 2014 that shook the entire world.

When education institutions are targeted or attacked, the damage and its consequences can be major and far-reaching. Notably, the current waves of attacks have had negative ramifications on the education sectors. For example, in Northern Kenya, many teachers have fled and have abandoned their jobs because of the increasing insecurity threat despite numerous reassurances from the Government on their safety. Nigeria on the other hand has the highest number of out of school children. Amnesty International publication “keep away from schools or we’ll kill you” reports that the insecurity generated by the constant attacks and fighting in Borno and other states in the north-eastern Nigeria led many parents to send their children away or leave the state, disrupting their education. Up to, 15,000 children in Borno State have stopped attending classes. The psycho-social effect of the attacks ensures that impact is felt by many people beyond the actual victims causing high levels of fear and stress. Ultimately, the longer-term impact of targeted and persistent attacks on education undermine social and economic development as they contribute to educational fragility and state inequalities.

In developing counties, families overcome various challenges to ensure that their loved ones get higher education. According to a UNESCO report, more than half of the world’s out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than one in five (22%) primary school-age children in the region have either never attended school or left before completing primary school. This is majorly due to perceptions of low quality education with poor outcomes for families, direct costs related to schooling and indirect loss in terms of losing a source of labour, especially for young women and girls.  Isn’t it enough that families of the Garissa victims overcame these various challenges to be in the University? What more can compound the already existing challenges to get an education than the risk of abduction, sexual violence and loss of life?

We Shall Overcome

The triumph against terrorism will require collective responsibility. Global leaders are currently concretizing what promises to be the benchmark of the development agenda in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Right to Quality Education must remain a high priority in the proposed goals, targets and indicators, and must address all obstacles in the quest of good education. Above all, leaders must recognize that peace is a necessity for education.Together, we must strive to keep at bay these forces that endanger our dreams and aspiration of having a strong, educated and sustainable world with limitless opportunities for young people.

To the families of the victims and survivors of the terrible ordeal, you remain in our payers and our hearts.  In this trying time, let us cling on to the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, a young feminist and socialist activist who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school” So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Join me in sending condolences to the families of the victims and survivors of the Garissa attack. #147notjustanumber

Credit REUTERS Goran Tomasevic
Photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Felogene Anumo is a young feminist and a member of FEMNET. Connect with her @Felogene or fganumo@gmail.com

Implement #MaputoProtocol NOW!

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SOAWR Post Card_Page_3

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (better known as the Maputo Protocol) is one of the world’s most comprehensive women’s human rights instruments, with progressive provisions aimed at addressing the current realities of girls and women across the African continent including addressing harmful traditional practices, economic empowerment, ending violence against women and food security. The theme of the AU Summit this year; “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” provides a unique opportunity to accelerate commitments towards the Maputo Protocol.
The Maputo Protocol currently has 36 ratifications.

“Realization of #TheAfricaWeWant through #Agenda2063 starts with implementation of the #MaputoProtocol. Implement Now! http://thndr.it/183gcJe”
Support SOAWR in sharing this message here;
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21509-implement-maputoprotocol-now?locale=en

Faiza on SOAWR & the #MaputoProtocol

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Faiza

As SOAWR, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition celebrates 10 years of its existence and its efforts to continuously breathe life into
the Maputo Protocol, one of the most progressive instruments on women’s rights globally, we caught up with one of the founders; Faiza Mohamed, Nairobi Director of Equality Now, where the Secretariat of the SOAWR Coalition lies.

1.  Why SOAWR? Why was it necessary at that point and has it lived up to its objectives?

The collective organizing and lobbying of African women to ensure adoption of a stronger Protocol inspired us that we should continue to make it a reality for women and that it will not be reduced to being powerless and on paper only. So, SOAWR was born in Sept 2004 to advocate for ratification and speedy entry into force of the Protocol so it becomes binding on state parties, to popularized throughout the continent and to push for its implementation. This means we wanted state parties to take actions to ensure the rights provided therein are enjoyed by women.It is work in progress but I believe we have covered great ground. Protocol is widely known in the majority of countries in African Union, 36 countries are state parties and we know more are going to join this list soon, in several countries lawyers are now using the Protocol in court to get justice for women whose rights were violated, Several countries have also adopted multisectoral approach to ensure all sectors of government are working together in fulfilling their obligations under the Protocol, and so on…

2. 10 years down the line, what have been some of the milestones? Your personal favorite moments?

When on 25th October 2005 Togo (the 15th member state to do so) deposited its instrument of ratification and paved the way for its entry into force on 25th November 2005.
When we issued score cards and the Delegation of Senegal made a statement at the summit claiming they should be given a green card as they ratified the Protocol. The African Union was not aware since Senegal had not deposited. Amazingly as the delegation promised the President brought their instrument of ratification to that summit (Jan 2005). This further influenced more countries to deposit their instruments of ratification which is why by October 2005 we had the required 15 ratifications for the Protocol to enter into force.

3. Moving forward, what do you envision, for the coalition and the realization of the Protocol?

The coalition has really done a lot and we should all be proud of our achievements to-date. However, we can’t rest until we reach a point where women are enjoying their rights to the fullest. The continent is big but with our collective energy we can move mountains. The coalition’s vision is still relevant and we have a lot of lessons to build on and a great deal of opportunities to take advantage of. This is the year of African women’s empowerment. That itself is a wonderful opportunity!

 

#Justice4Osebe

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As the entire world observes UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the beginning of 16 Day of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we are tragically yet again reminded that the right to life is a basic human right that is often violated.

A 4-year-old girl Anita Osebe Moi was robbed of this extremely important human right. She will never grow up to fulfill her dreams and actualize her full potential because she is no more.

Please sign the petition here.

We are extremely appalled and in the strongest terms possible condemn the rape that led to the subsequent murder of 4-year-old Osebe. This deeply disturbing, cruel, inhuman and gruesome incident took place at Iringa village, Tabaka Ward, Kisii County, Kenya on 8 October 2014.

The cause of Osebe’s death was revealed by results of a postmortem done at Tabaka Mission Hospital on 30 October 2014 confirming that she died from acute heart failure as a result of defilement and sodomy. Osebe was laid to rest at her parents’ home in Iringa village on Friday October 31st 2014. The defilement and subsequent murder of Osebe MUST be vehemently condemned by ALL Kenyans and world citizens of goodwill.

We also condemn what the family of Osebe and community members are noting as a slow response by the local law enforcement systems to thoroughly investigate and apprehend the known suspect when he emerged as a suspect in this matter before he went into hiding. Given the gravity of the offense, the suspect is a serious threat to public safety and particularly so to children.

The suspect must be apprehended as soon as possible to help ease community tensions and the deep sense of insecurity and vulnerability that prevails within the Iringa and Tabaka Ward community at large. Life in Iringa village is not the same. There is great fear particularly amongst children that what happened to Osebe could happen to them. WE WANT JUSTICE AND WE WANT IT NOW!

This case is just one in thousands that highlights the challenges and difficulties survivors of sexual violence in Kenya face daily. The rampant defilement of minors particularly girls in Kenya coupled with a very low prosecution rate when cases are reported is deeply disturbing and a fact that led to the ‘Equality Effect’ 160 Girls project in Eastern Kenya that revealed that every 30 minutes, a girl or woman is raped in Kenya and that there is a high prevalence of sexual violence against children in “the whole country.”

Kenya must uphold the rights of all its citizens and protect women and girls from sexual violence, in line with the 2010 Constitution, the Sexual Offenses Act, the Penal Code, and its obligations under regional and international human rights instruments. Kenya has ratified a number of international and regional human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual violence, including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Protocol obliges member states to “adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure the protection of every woman’s right to respect for her dignity and protection of women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence” and to “ensure the prevention, punishment and eradication of all forms of violence against women.” Furthermore, the Protocol requires that Kenya establish “mechanisms and accessible services for effective information, rehabilitation and reparation for victims” and direct adequate State resources towards the implementation and monitoring of preventative action.

Tragically, the 2006 Sexual Offences Act’s “effectiveness has been marred by poor enforcement due to failure of the police to investigate complaints of sexual violence or arrest the perpetrators.” Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors.

It is unfortunate that several weeks after the murder of Osebe we must be moved to call upon our leaders to take action, knowing that they have the mandate and the power to ensure a swift professional investigation, subsequent apprehension and prosecution of the individual that committed this grossly abhorrent act that so brutally took Osebe’s life.

Our leaders’ immediate response to this call to action will not only demonstrate to Osebe’s family but the entire country and indeed the world that Kenya and Kisii County in particular are serious about addressing the prevalent issue of violence against girls and women.

Please join us in signing this petition to call upon the following Kenyan government officials to ensure a swift and thorough investigation into the gruesome defilement and subsequent murder of Anita Osebe Moi leading to the capture and prosecution of the individual that committed this heinous act. Furthermore, call on these officials to urgently ensure the realization of the Kenyan government’s obligation to prevent and eradicate sexual violence, while ensuring justice for all survivors.

– Hon. Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice and Head of the National Council for the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) – chiefjustice@judiciary.go.ke @WMutunga
– Keriako Tobiko, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) -keriako.tobiko@odpp.go.ke @ODPP_KE
– Hon. Winfred Lichuma, Chairperson, National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) – info@ ngeckenya.org
– H. E. William Ruto, Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya -dp@deputypresident.go.ke, @WilliamsRuto
– Anne Waiguru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution & Planning -info@devolutionplanning.go.ke, @AnneWaiguru

We cannot continue to lose girls or any child for that matter as a result of sexual violence. This MUST STOP NOW! We call upon all Kenyans and world citizens of goodwill to stand with Osebe’s family at this very difficult time of great loss and grief by signing this petition demanding that the Kenyan government apprehends the known suspect as a matter of urgency and ensures that justice is served.

Thank you so much for your support and may justice be served!

Join us on Facebook

Please amplify this message on social media using the hashtag #Justice4Osebe

Endorsers:

– The Tabaka Ward ‘Uongozi Wa Utu Project’ – FEMNET (The African Women’s Development and Communications Network) – Young Women Leaders Institute (YWLI) – Njagi and Nyaboke Advocates’ (Jane Nyaboke Matoke, Advocate of the High Court of Kenya) – Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) – Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter – Equality Now.

cc:

– H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta C.G.H. President and Commander in Chief of The Defence Forces of The Republic of Kenya – @UKenyatta info@president.go.ke
– Office of the First Lady, State House – fl.secretariat@president.go.ke, @FirstLadyKenyaHon
– Hon. David Kimaiyo, Inspector General of the Kenya Police -kimaiyodm@ymail.com, knfp.info@gmail.com @IGKimaiyo; @PoliceKE
– Hon. Prof. Githu Muigai, Attorney General, oagpcomms@kenya.go.ke
– Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior & Coordination of – National Government, joelenku@gmail.com
– Jacinta Nyamosi, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions – @ODPP_KE
– H.E. James Ongwae, Governor Kisii County – governor@kisii.go.ke, @JamesOngwae
– H.E. Joash Maangi, Deputy Governor Kisii County -deputygovernor@kisii.go.ke
– Commissioner Chege Mwangi, Kisii County Commissioner
– Commander Moses Kanyi, OCPD, Gucha South Sub County
– Jane Mbera, Area Chief, Iringa Sub –location, Tabaka Ward
– Hon. Josephine Ombati, Chairperson Kisii County Assembly Women’s Caucus
– Hon. Mary Otara, Kisii County Women’s Representative
– Hon. Daniel Ombasa Apepo, Minority Leader Kisii County & MCA, Tabaka Ward
– Hon. Manson Nyamweya, South Mugirango Member of Parliament
– Hon. Janet Ong’era, Senator Kisii County
– Hon. Chris Obure, Senator Kisii County
– Commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori, Chairperson, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights – haki@knchr.org; complaint@knchr.org
– Patricia Nyaundi, Secretary to the Commission, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights – haki@knchr.org; complaint@knchr.org
– Prof. Rose Odhiambo, HSC, CEO/Commission Secretary, National Gender and Equality Commission- info@ ngeckenya.org
– Hon. Cecily Mbarire, Chairperson, Kenya Women Parliamentary Association,info@kewopa.org
– Chairman of the Council of Governors, info@cog.go.ke