Women’s rights in Africa – UN and African Union launch report ahead of International Women’s Day

Maison Dorcas Women’s Singing Group Maison Dorcas Women’s Singing Group © Planto (People Portfolio Project)

7 March 2017
A report on Women’s rights in Africa was launched today by the UN Human Rights Office, the African Union and UN Women, the first in a series addressing various thematic areas.

Women’s human rights in Africa have achieved great strides, in particular on female participation in African legislatures, surpassing that of many developed nations.  These include provisions on sexual and gender-based violence, economic, social and cultural rights and non-discrimination in policies and constitutions across Africa.

These advances notwithstanding, every country on the continent, like others around the world, women are still denied full enjoyment of their rights. Some of the data reported that there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence in six African countries. In 2013, 62% of preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth globally were African women and girls, and an estimated 130 women and girls, mostly in Africa, have undergone female genital mutilation.  

It is acknowledged internationally that when women enjoy full rights of access to education, skills and jobs, it leads to higher levels of prosperity, better health outcomes and well-being, not only of women but of society as a whole.

Political instability and conflict lead to gaps in protecting women’s rights. The report highlights that women need to be active agents in formal and informal peace-building processes. It calls for African governments to encourage full participation of women in society, and a recognition of women’s unpaid care and domestic work and enable women’s access and control over their own economic and financial resources.  


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