Nairobi, Kenya July 10: Gender rights activists meeting in Nairobi have asked the African Union to ensure that the 11 member countries that are yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol do so.
Speaking during the 3rd African Girls and Women Festival organized by the Africa `women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) the women leaders said it is a pity that some African countries have not seen it fit to grant women their rights as citizens of their countries and wondered how the African Union can tolerate this.
The festival was held at the eve of commemorating 20 years of the Maputo Protocol in Nairobi and attracted over 50 participants from 30 African countries.
Karen Cheptoo Birech, a girl rights activist said “why do we have 11 countries that have not ratified the Maputo Protocol, does that mean that there are reservations in implementing human rights,” .
Additionally, Martha Claura Nakato from We Lead Uganda urged the African leaders to break all barriers to ensure that all women’s voices are heard and respected all-round the continent.
The youthful participants noted that there is not enough power to shut their mouth.
“I am not afraid to say enough is enough,” she said Randa Wani Eresto.
Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie, AU Special Rapporteur on the Right of women in Africa urged women around Africa have been urged to claim their space since rights are not given rather taken.
Njie said Africa’s future lies on the granting the rights to women and girls now and called upon the CSOs to fight for more younger women to participate in the policy and decision-making processes.
She added that as CSOs in the space, they are responsible for making sure that human rights of African citizens are respected. She cautioned women that the policies they are calling for are to safeguard the future generation of young girls and women.
“The future is now and we should not wait because the time in now for young women and girls to be included exclusively in policy and decision-making processes,” said Memory Kachambwa, the Executive Director The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET).
Kachambwa insisted that the girls and young women are the now leaders and their voices are just as important as those of key decision makers.
“As pacesetters, we must continue to create spaces for young women and handover the baton,” remarked Kachambwa
Randa Wani Eresiko, a representative from South Sudan said African women must rise and put an end to violence by fully ratifying and implementing the Maputo Protocol.
Martha Claura Nakato from Uganda urged women to enter into the politics.
“We all know we cannot speak about human rights if we do not get into political spaces,” she said.
Accordingly, Rachel Kagoiya, the Communications Lead from FEMNET said that the 20 years of the Maputo Protocol is a historical moment and it gives women the time to finally speak for themselves.
“We need to have deeper reflections on what Maputo is, and why its significant to African Girls and young women,” said Kagoiya.
Mary Wandia, a renowned gender activist at Co-impact said that women’s rights are human rights.
“I have been working on the Maputo Protocol for 23 years now and I believe that it is critical for the protocol to be fully ratified,” said Wandia.
Wandia insisted that the solidarity of African women is necessary to ensure that the rights of women and girls is realized through the Maputo Protocol. She also stated that there is no hierarchy to human rights and hence women should not have reservations of implementing them.