Law and policy

Law and policy

iNTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLICY

Outlining the international standards which a country has bound itself to is a useful tool in understanding its obligations. Below is a table of international instruments and the status of each in the relevant countries. In time, ENDGBV.AFRICA will fully map out the continent’s alignment with and adherence to these standards.

Key:

S     : signature
R    : ratification
A     : accession
   : signature and ratification/accession

Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (1966)
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of discrimination Against Women (1979)
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000)
Malawi
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Mozambique
--
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
South Africa
Signature
Zambia
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Zimbabwe
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession

International Instruments Explainer

Given the history of women’s participation in political and electoral processes, this Convention is significant in that it protects women’s rights to vote on equal terms with men, their eligibility to hold public office, and to participate in non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with public and political life. The Convention is to be read together with the United Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations.

Accessible here.

In setting out fundamental human rights and freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Politics Rights (ICCPR) expressly requires State Parties to ensure equality between men and women in the enjoyment of all civil and political rights. Through its recognition of the inherent dignity of the human person, the Covenant prohibits discrimination on the basis of grounds such as race, colour, or sex. The ICCPR is overseen by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Accessible here.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) seeks to protect, amongst others, the right to self-determination of all people, the right to non-discrimination, the right to work, and the right to protection and assistance to the family. As part of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) oversight function over the ICESCR, State Parties are required to file regular reports on measures taken to implement this covenant.

Accessible here.

This UN Convention, also commonly referred to as the Women’s Bill of Rights, is largely regarded as the most comprehensive treaty dealing with women’s rights. It frames discrimination against women to broadly encompass any distinction, exclusion, or restriction on the basis of sex that impairs the enjoyment by women of political, social, cultural, or civil human rights on an equal footing with men. It provides that State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure the full development and advancement of women. Importantly, the focus areas of CEDAW are civil rights and the political status of women, women’s reproductive rights, and the manner in which cultural patterns impact gender relations.

Accessible here.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is a comprehensive pledge by the international community to advance women’s rights as well as to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It has been described by UN Women as a blueprint for the fight towards global gender equality. It expressly recognises the need to safeguard the rights of the girl child as “the woman of tomorrow”. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) reviews the progress on the implementation of the Platform.

Accessible here.

The Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime places emphasis on the utility of close international cooperation to deal with this type of harm and upon ratification, States commit themselves domestically criminalising certain offences, putting into place measures for extradition, and creating law enforcement cooperation frameworks. It has been supplemented by several protocols including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

Accessible here.
Protocol accessible here.

A portal to enable and empower

A portal to enable and empower

REGIONAL LAW AND POLICY

Outlining the regional standards which a country has bound itself to is a useful tool in understanding its obligations. Below is a table of regional instruments and the status of each in the relevant countries. In time, ENDGBV.AFRICA will fully map out the continent’s alignment with and adherence to these standards.

Key:

S     : signature
R    : ratification
A     : accession
   : signature and ratification/accession

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003)
Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004)
The Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children (2006)
African Youth Charter (2006)
Revised Maputo Plan of Action 2016-2030 for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights (2016)
SADC Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing Gender-based Violence (2018)
Malawi
Ratification / Accession
Ratification / Accession
Mozambique
South Africa
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Ratification / Accession

Regional Instruments Explainer

This treaty, which supplements the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, includes broad protections for women’s rights, with a particular focus on reproductive health rights and their inherent autonomy. It is also the first binding treaty that addresses HIV and AIDS. The protocol is a result of the African Charter’s gaps in explicitly referring to women. Research indicates the interlinkages between gender, socio-cultural norms, economic equity, and health outcomes.

Accessible here.

The primary purpose of this declaration is to influence and enhance the attention given to issues such as gender parity as African States strive towards gender equality. The thematic areas of action identified in this declaration are governance; peace and security; human rights; health; education; and economic empowerment.

Accessible here.

The aforementioned Action Plan was a joint project between the European Union and African States to provide a framework to combat the trafficking of women and children in recognition of the unique obstacles faced by these groups. It reaffirms the best interests of the child principle. Further, the legislative framework, policy development, and law enforcement portion of the document calls upon States to ensure that legal and administrative practices provide information to survivors about the status of relevant criminal and other legal proceedings available to them.

Accessible here.

The African Youth Charter defines ‘youth’ or ‘young people’ as persons between the ages of 15 and 35 years old. Article 23 mandates State Parties to acknowledge the need to eliminate discrimination against girls and young women. As part of this acknowledgment, the Charter includes 14 measures for State Parties to work towards gender equality. These measures include introducing appropriate legislative measures; guaranteeing universal and equal access to and completion of at least nine years of formal education; and taking steps to provide equal access to health care services and nutrition.

Accessible here.

The Maputo Plan of Action, which aligns itself with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals as well as the AU Agenda 2063, seeks to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights to women in Africa. The Plan makes use of indicators in order to monitor the progress of Member States in implementing this plan. Examples of key output areas include the integration of HIV, STI, Malaria, and sexual and reproductive health services into primary health care, the reduction of unsafe abortions, and developing youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services aimed at empowerment.

Accessible here.

Although this framework is specific to SADC, it is still worth noting. It sets out the causes of GBV and encourages the implementation of preventative methods and collective action to eliminate this epidemic. One of the goals of SADC’s GBV Strategy is to provide a common platform that facilitates a holistic and coordinated approach to GBV. One such way to achieve this is through capacity development and information/knowledge management.

Accessible here.

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