With the 10th Anniversary of the Maputo Protocol just around the corner, we are honored to present to you Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) as our organization highlight of the month.
Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) is a coalition of 43 African-based civil society organizations across 23 states who advocate that the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa remains on the agenda of policy makers and African leaders. They work to safeguard African women’s rights and seek to have all African countries ratify and implement the protocol.
SOAWR works to influence public opinion and build constituencies in favor of the ratification as well as raise awareness among African states of the importance of the protocol in addressing conditions facing women and girls. They seek to expand SOAWR’s relationship with the AU Commission, the Pan-African Parliament and other bodies and engage with the mass media and make use of the internet to popularize the protocol, while strengthening the leadership capabilities of African women’s organizations.
SOAWR has been campaigning since its inauguration in 2004 to compel African states to urgently sign, ratify, domesticate and fully implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (also known as the Maputo Protocol).
SOAWR is a coalition, which works to:
- Achieve universal ratification of the AU protocol on the rights of women
- Popularise the protocol
- Ensure that the protocol is implemented in all countries and that it becomes part of domestic law.
SOAWR Multisectorial Training
To achieve ratification and ensure domestication of the Protocol requires an increase in the political will of duty bearers i.e. policy makers at the national level and at the African Union.
The SOAWR coalition has been seeking to achieve this through increased lobbying capabilities of the coalition to promote the Protocol and hold member states to account; and increased public will in support of women’s rights articulated by the Protocol. Also to:
- Influence public opinion and build constituencies in favour of the ratification, domestication and implementation of the protocol, nationally and regionally
- Expand SOAWR’s relationship with the AU Commission, the Pan-African Parliament and other bodies to ensure commitment to the provisions of the protocol
- Raise awareness among African states of the importance of the protocol in addressing conditions facing women and girls
- Actively engage with the mass media and make use of the internet to popularise the protocol
- Strengthen the leadership capabilities of women’s organisations.
This African women’s organizations holds many success stories since its implementation in 2004 for example, the 36 African Union States have ratified the Protocol and the SOAWR coalition has been at the forefront of this effort.
- SOAWR has generated many funds for their members, produced advocacy materials, have had several publications, led research, and have initiated the ‘color card campaign’ where members of the AU receive the card with green meaning ratified, yellow signed but not ratified and red neither signed or ratified as a powerful awareness raising mechanism to put pressure on country leaders. To check out some of their publications click here.
- They have participated in many AU summits engaging with African political leaders and have directly written to African presidents to have them ratify, domesticate and implement the protocol.
- This inspiring group of African female leaders has also used a mobile phone campaign ‘Text now 4 women’s rights’ to popularize the protocol.
- The coalition member Centre for Human Rights(University of Pretoria) with the support of SOAWR collaborated with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Generating the AU human rights system first ever General Comments which focus on article 14( full link in the email sent to Mayma)
- The coalition members led by the Centre for Human Rights in conjunction with the African Union Commission was actively involved in the formulation for state reporting guidelines under the Protocol
To read more about some of SOAWRs successes click here.
SOAWR aims to continue to coordinate support at all levels and achieve universal ratification of the protocol. They will continue aiming to use regional, national and international levels to spread their mandate and achieve their goals. They wish to keep collaborating closely with the African Union Commission, the AU Legal Counsel, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of African Women, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Human and Peoples’ Rights Court to promote the rights and freedoms of African women. They also hope to continue expanding their reach by creative radio broadcasting across Africa and distribute their practitioners manual widely.
SOAWR Members Celebrating Uganda's Announcement of Upcoming Ratification
c/o Equality Now
PO Box 2018-00202
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