New Manual on Using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for Legal Action
Monday, June 4, 2012 3:15 PM

The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa came into force in 2005, providing robust and comprehensive protections for women’s rights. A new Guide to Using the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa for Legal Action published by Equality Now, and in partnership with Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), aims to give civil society the tools to ensure that the Protocol is being effectively implemented at the local, national, and regional levels.
The Protocol, ratified by 32 countries to date, sets out a broad range of social and economic rights and calls for the end of all forms of violence against women. For example, under the Protocol the minimum age for marriage is set at 18 years old, forced marriages are forbidden, and states must enact laws prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM). The Protocol goes on to state that governments must work towards equal participation by women at all decision-making levels, including within the judiciary and law enforcement.
The manual provides a step-by-step guide for social activists on the process of bringing violations of the Protocol before domestic courts and regional bodies such as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It explains the significance of landmark cases on women’s rights from the African Commission and other relevant regional bodies. More broadly, the Guide sets out strategies activists can use to popularize the Protocol in their respective countries, to advocate for its ratification by national governments and to effectively press for changes to domestic laws and policies.