FEMNET continues to build on gains and tremendous momentum towards the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality at the continental and global levels
The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) is a regional network made up of 43 national, regional and international civil society organisations working towards the promotion and protection of Women’s Human Rights in Africa. Since its inauguration in 2004, SOAWR’s main area of focus has been 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. FEMNET is a founding member of the SOAWR coalition.
SOAWR founding members contributed to ensuring that the draft of the Protocol contained strong provisions on women’s rights and the subsequent advocacy activities of the coalition contributed to the Protocol’s status as one of the fastest AU instruments to enter into force. Since then, SOAWR members have played a critical role in translating and disseminating the Protocol in local African languages, developing and disseminating the Guidelines for Reporting on the Protocol, supporting the drafting of the General Comments on Article 14, capacity building for lawyers and government officials, supporting impoverished and marginalized women and girls in their efforts to claim their rights, and, more broadly, monitoring the status of ratification and implementation of the Protocol and advocating for and supporting accelerated efforts to make its provisions a reality for African women.
As of July 2013, 36 countries have ratified the Protocol. The following countries are yet to ratify: Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tunisia.
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Liz is a pseudo name for a 16 year old girl who was beaten and gang-raped on her way home from her grandfather’s funeral and dumped in a pit latrine in Busia, Kenya in June 2013. She had injured her spine and was wheelchair bound and had developed the worst case of fistula. Her story was broken by Njeri Rugene of the Daily Nation in October – at which point it came to the attention of COVAW, FEMNET and other partners. Nebila of FEMNET started an online petition #JusticeForLiz on Avaaz.org which received over 1.8 million signatures from across the globe demanding an immediate arrest of the perpetrators and disciplinary action on the police who mishandled Liz’s case.
Two of the perpetrators are now in custody. Liz is recovering from her physical and psychological injuries, after having undergone surgery to repair the slipped disk as well as the fistula. Liz is currently in witness protection as she and her family have been receiving threats from the community. The case has also gone to court.
Join us in demanding #JusticeForLiz and in demanding public accountability, an end to violence and an end to impunity. We must never forget that Liz is one story – she is unfortunately not the first nor the last victim or survivor of violence, but we must use her story and this case as a rallying point – to express solidarity, to express our outrage and to demand action. We must act. For Liz, for Mbabazi and for so many others in similar situations.
See pictures from a march held on October 31st that brought together hundreds, including FEMNET members from across Africa