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Wednesday 17 October 2012

DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights: Press statement on the landmark customary inheritance law decision

12 October 2012, Gaborone – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights notes with appreciation, today’s High Court decision in the case of Mmusi and Others v Ramantele and Another. Judge Key Dingake ruled that the Ngwaketse customary law inheritance rule, which hitherto has provided for male-only inheritance of the family home, is discriminatory.

Attorney Tshiamo Rantao, representing Mmusi and her sisters, had argued that this provision is discriminatory on a number of grounds. These included section 3 of the Constitution of Botswana which provides for the right to equality and reference to relevant regional and international law. In contrast, Attorney Thabiso Tafila representing the nephew, Ramantele, had argued that this customary law did not discriminate against women, but merely differentiated between men and women. The Court asked the Attorney-General for an opinion to assist it in its decision-making. The Attorney-General argued that Botswana society was not ready for equality even though the customary rule is discriminatory. The Attorney-General argued that the rule should remain.

This ruling is particularly timely as Botswana will be appearing before the Human Rights Council in February 2013 for its second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the first UPR review in 2008, the Human Rights Council (through Canada) had recommended that ‘Botswana increase efforts to raise awareness of the precedence of constitutional law over customary laws and practices to promote gender equality’. Botswana’s response was that ‘Botswana does not accept the recommendation. Customary law is not in conflict with constitutional law’. The Human Rights Council (through Mexico) had recommended that Botswana ‘adopt measures necessary for harmonising customary laws with international instruments’. Botswana had replied that it ‘does not consider its customary law to be in conflict with international instruments, and therefore does not accept the recommendation’.

Today’s ruling clearly indicates that the customary law inheritance rule which allows for male-only inheritance of the family home by the youngest-born son, is not in conformity with either the Constitution of Botswana or international instruments to which Botswana has committed herself.

Friday 5 March 2010

Dossier of Claims: Botswana

RATIFY! While Botswana has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, Botswana has so far failed to ratify – or even sign – the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

RESPECT! The Coalition of the Campaign is particularly concerned about the following continued violations of women’s human rights in Botswana: application of discriminatory customary laws; access to property; violence against women; access to decision-making positions; access to employment and health services; and the persistence of discriminatory stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes.

SOME POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS...

The Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges several developments in recent years aimed at improving respect for women’s rights, including:

  • The adoption of the Domestic Violence Act in 2008, which criminalises many acts of gender-based violence and provides some protection to the victims.
  • The adoption of the Abolition of Marital Power Act in 2007 which abolished the common law principle of marital power, according to which the husband was the sole administrator of the family estate, and replaced it with the principle of equality of the spouses with respect to the joint matrimonial assets. However, customary and religious marriages are unaffected by these reforms. The Act also abolished the common law principle of unity of matrimonial residence and allows women to choose their place of residence.
  • The adoption of the Children’s Act 2009 (not yet in force) under which birth certificates contain the names of both parents.

BUT DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE PERSIST

In Law

Botswana has a dual legal system, under which customary law is applied alongside common law. While there have been several reforms of discriminatory provisions under the common law, customary law remains particularly prejudicial to women’s rights, perpetuating unequal power relations between men and women and strengthening stereotypes on the role of women in society.

Although the Constitution of Botswana contains a provision on non-discrimination, under clause 15(4)(c) the prohibition does not apply to: “adoption, marriage, divorce,burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law”.

Customary law remains deeply discriminatory against women, in particular in the areas of family and property law. For example:

Marriage: While the Marriage Act was amended in 2001 to specify 18 years as the minimum age for marriage for both sexes with parental consent, many marriages take place under customary law according to which there is no such limit. The principle of marital power continues to apply to marriages under customary and religious law. Women are considered legal minors and require their husband’s consent to buy or sell property and land, apply for a bank loans, and enter into legally binding contracts. Customary law authorises polygamy with the consent of the first wife, but it is not a common practice.

Separation: In case of separation, custody is traditionally granted to the husband’s family. Mothers have only the right to visit. Although the Affiliation Proceedings Act of 1999 mitigated discrimination against children born out of wedlock, allowing women or care-givers to seek maintenance from the father; under customary law an unmarried mother has no right to receive such maintenance. The mother’s own father has a duty to support the child.

Inheritance: A widow has no right to inheritance from her husband; all property passes to the eldest son. If the husband had no sons, his eldest daughter can inherit but in such case property is administered by her male guardian.

In Practice

Violence

Violence against women remains highly prevalent. Although the Domestic Violence Act 2008 criminalised many forms of violence against women, under customary law and common rural practices men are perceived to have the right to “chastise” their wives. The majority of crimes are unreported and those complaints that are registered are rarely effectively investigated and prosecuted. In 2009, it was estimated by the United Nations that 3 in 5 women in Botswana have experienced some form of domestic violence. Botswana has also recently seen an increase in cases of murder of women by their partners.

By law, the minimum sentence for rape is ten years, however, the majority of perpetrators are not prosecuted or convicted. Marital rape is not criminalised. As a result post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is not provided to married women who have been raped by their spouses. The Domestic Violence Act contains other significant gaps. For example, it empowers police officers to remove survivors of domestic violence from their residences but does not provide for the creation of shelters for victims of violence. Botswana currently has one such shelter, run by a NGO.

Under-representation in political life

While the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development includes a commitment to achieving at least 30% representation of women in political and decision making structures by 2005, Botswana has failed to take effective measures to increase representation, for example by introducing a quota system. In 2008, there were only 7 women in the 61 seat National Assembly,

4 women in the 24 member cabinet and 4 women in the 35 seat House of Chiefs (an advisory upper chamber to the National Assembly). There were 3 female judges in the 13 seats High Court. In the October 2009 elections, of a total of 117 candidates, only 10 were women and only two were elected to parliament.

Obstacles to access to education and employment

Whilst some efforts have been made by the government to increase girls’ access to education, girls continue to drop out of education due to pregnancy, early marriage or to earn money to support their families. Although the law prohibits sexual harassment, it remains a serious problem both in schools and in the workplace. Employment legislation has been reformed to remove some discriminatory provisions (in particular those prohibiting women from working in mines, industrial and agricultural work at night) and in 2008 women were authorised to serve in the military. Yet, women mainly occupy junior positions or are employed in the informal sector and thus have no access to social security benefits. Although there have been increases in women occupying high level positions in the private and public sector, they remain under represented (31% in 2007). Women’s limited access to property and credit also form major obstacles to the establishment of businesses.

Obstacles to access to health

The very high prevalence of HIV/ AIDS and the practice of unsafe abortions remain a major problem. The Criminal Code criminalises abortion, unless pregnancy is a result of rape, defilement, or incest, poses a physical or mental health risk to the pregnant woman, or if the unborn child would suffer from or later develop serious physical or mental abnormalities or disease.

Obstacles to access to justice

Obstacles include a lack of information on women’s rights and the laws protecting them, social pressure, a culture of silence and legal costs. Law enforcement agents have not been sufficiently trained on how to deal with cases of gender-based violence.

Furthermore, there is no specific law implementing CEDAW in national legislation and enabling its provisions to be invoked before the courts.

THE COALITION OF THE CAMPAIGN CALLS ON THE AUTHORITIES OF BOTSWANA TO:

  • Reform or repeal all discriminatory statutory laws, in conformity with CEDAW, including by abolishing article 15(4)(c) of the Constitution and widely disseminating statutory laws protecting women’s rights.
  • Harmonise civil, religious and customary law, in conformity with CEDAW and ensure that where conflicts arise between statutory legal provisions and customary or religious law, the statutory provisions prevail.
  • Strengthen laws and policies to protect women from violence and support victims, including by criminalising marital rape; establishing a legal aid system for women victims of violence; ensuring effective prosecution and punishment of offenders; implementing awareness-raising programmes for the general population; and establishing shelters for women victims of violence.
  • Increase women’s access to education and employment, including by addressing socio-economic and cultural factors that impede access to education; and enforcing legislation on sexual harassment.
  • Increase women’s representation in decision-making positions, in conformity with CEDAW and the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development, including through the adoption of temporary special measures such as quotas.
  • Ensure women’s access to health services, including by intensifying efforts to combat HIV/aids; providing PEP to women victims of rape, including marital rape; and reforming the Penal Code to decriminalise abortion in all circumstances.
  • Eliminate discrimination against women concerning access to property, including by raising awareness on land and property rights, especially of rural women, and expanding legal assistance to women wishing to file claims of discrimination.
  • Ensure women’s access to justice, including by adopting specific law to implement CEDAW into national legislation and enable its provisions to be invoked before the national courts; implementing training for all law enforcement personnel; ensuring that women are aware of their rights; providing access to free legal representation.
  • Eliminate discriminatory cultural practices and stereotypes, including through awareness-raising programmes targeting women and men, traditional and community leaders and the media.
  • Ratify the Maputo Protocol and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
  • Implement all recommendations issued by the CEDAW Committee, in February 2010.

PRINCIPAL SOURCES

  • Focal Points: DITSHWANELO and Emang Basadi
  • Shadow report submitted to the CEDAW Committee, Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO), October 2009
  • Inter Parliamentary Union, www.ipu.org
  • Wikigender, www.wikigender.org

THE CAMPAIGN FOCAL POINTS IN BOTSWANA

DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights is an NGO established in 1993. It is the only organisation in Botswana dealing with the full range of human rights issues. It works towards achieving gender equality by incorporating it in actions to advocate for legislative changes, providing information to the public and offering paralegal services. www.ditshanelo.org.bw

EMANG BASADI
The EMANG BASADI Women’s Association was established in 1986 to lobby against discriminatory laws. Emang Basadi seeks to raise awareness on women’s rights through lobby, advocacy and capacity building and provides legal aid and counselling services for the empowerment of women.

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Thursday 10 December 2009

International Human Rights Day: Firm Political Will Required to End Violence Against Women

VERSION FRANÇAISE

The Coalition of the Campaign “Africa for Women's Rights Ratify and Respect” demands immediate action from governments

10 December 2010, Nairobi, Paris - On International Human Rights Day, as NGO's across Africa conclude their actions marking 16 days of activism against gender violence, the Coalition of the Campaign “Africa for Women's Rights Ratify and Respect” calls upon all African governments to take urgent measures to eliminate violence against women.

Africa is the continent that records the highest levels of violence perpetrated against women. Patriarchy, sexism and misogyny are widespread across the 53 countries. Harmful traditional practices, insufficient legal protection and extensive impunity for acts of violence perpetuate violations of women's rights. In periods of conflict or political unrest, crimes of sexual violence continue to be committed on a massive scale.

From November 25th (International Day on Violence Against Women) until 10th December (International Human Rights Day), NGO's have been intensively campaigning for an end to such atrocities. The Coalition of the Campaign “Africa for Womens Rights Ratify and Respect” lends its support to the theme for this year's mobilisation: Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women! The Campaign emphasizes the need for all actors, starting with governments, to give full support to efforts to end sexual and gender based violence.

The Coalition of the Campaign issues specific recommendations to the governments of Burundi, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Togo and Mali, which have been a particular focus of the Campaign in 2009, and where sexual and domestic violence remain highly prevalent.

In Burundi, perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence benefit from widespread impunity. There is no specific law prohibiting domestic violence. Extrajudicial settlement of cases of rape favours practices such as marriage between the rapist and the victim. Amongst the root causes of persistent violence, are profoundly discriminatory laws, in particular provisions of the Code of the Person and the Family and the Penal Code, as well as the continued application of customary law.

The Coalition of the Campaign calls on the government of Burundi to:

  • abolish or reform discriminatory laws including provisions of the Code of the Person and the Family and the Penal Code and customary laws;
  • enact legislation criminalizing domestic violence;
  • adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat all forms of violence against women; and
  • ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.

In Botswana, customary law, which profoundly discriminates against women, is applied alongside common law. While Botswana has adopted legislation criminalising violence against women (Domestic Violence Act 2008), under customary law men are perceived to have the right to “chastise” their wives. Furthermore, the Domestic Violence Act contains significant gaps. For example, it does not penalise marital rape.

The Coalition of the Campaign therefore calls on the government of Botswana to:

  • abolish or reform discriminatory laws including customary laws and ensure that common law is superior to customary law;
  • enact legislative provisions criminalizing marital rape; and
  • adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat all forms of violence against women.

In Democratic Republic of Congo, crimes of sexual violence continue to be committed on a massive scale, both in areas of ongoing conflict and areas of relative stability. Two laws on sexual violence adopted in 2006 have so far been ineffectively implemented and perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity. Harmful traditional practices such as dowry, levirate, polygamy, forced and early marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence, remain widespread.

The Coalition of the Campaign calls on the Democratic Republic of Congo to implement the recent recommendations on combating violence against women issued by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (November 2009). In particular, it urges the government to:

  • accelerate the adoption of the law on gender equality and reform of discriminatory provisions within the Family Code;
  • enact legislation prohibiting harmful traditional practices;
  • raise the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years;
  • implement the comprehensive strategy against sexual violence endorsed by the Government in April 2009; and
  • ensure provision of compensation, psychological support and health care to survivors of sexual violence.

In Mali, discriminatory laws, in particular in the area of the family, place women in a situation of extreme vulnerability. Harmful traditional practices persist including female genital mutilation, forced and early marriage and levirate. Following ten years of drafting, reforms to the Family Code were passed by parliament in August 2009 but, following widespread protests by ultra-conservative groups, the President sent the law back to Parliament for a second reading.

The Coalition of the Campaign therefore calls on the government of Mali to:

  • ensure that the proposed reforms of the Family Code, are adopted, in full, without further delay;
  • criminalise female genital mutilation and marital rape;
  • adopt the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa.

In Togo, discriminatory customs and traditions, including forced and early marriage, female genital mutilation, ritual bondage, levirate and repudiation are widespread. Patriarchal attitudes persist that consider the physical chastisement of family members, including women, acceptable. Proposed reforms to the Personal and Family Code, which would amend some of the discriminatory provisions, have been stalled.

The Coalition of the Campaign therefore calls on the government of Togo to:

  • reform all discriminatory legislation including the Personal and Family Code
  • enact legislation on domestic violence, including marital rape, and on all forms of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment
  • introduce immediate measures to modify and/or eliminate customs and cultural practices that discriminate against women
  • ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“As we mark International Human Rights Day, we remind all governments of the fundamental rights of women to be protected from all forms of violence. It is abhorrent that women continue to suffer such atrocities, and on a daily basis, whilst governments fail to act”, stated Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “Eliminating violence against women is a question, first and foremost, of political will”, she concluded.

Journée internationale des droits de l'Homme : Une volonté politique ferme est nécessaire pour mettre fin aux violences contre les femmes

ENGLISH VERSION

La coalition de la campagne « L’Afrique pour les droits des femmes : Ratifier et Respecter » demande des mesures immédiates aux gouvernements

10 Décembre 2010, Nairobi, Paris – À l’occasion de la Journée internationale des droits de l’Homme, et alors que les ONG à travers l’Afrique concluent leurs actions marquant les 16 jours d’activisme contre les violences à l’égard des femmes, la Coalition de la Campagne « L’Afrique pour les droits des femmes : Ratifier et Respecter » appelle tous gouvernements africains à prendre des mesures urgentes pour éliminer les violences contre les femmes.

L’Afrique est le continent qui enregistre les niveaux les plus élevés de violences commises contre les femmes. Des pratiques traditionnelles néfastes, une protection juridique insuffisante et une impunité généralisée perpétuent les violences à l’égard des femmes. En période de conflit ou d’instabilité politique, les crimes sexuels continuent d’êtres commis à grande échelle.

Du 25 novembre (Journée internationale pour l'élimination de la violence à l'égard des femmes) au 10 décembre (Journée internationale des droits de l’Homme), les ONG ont fait activement campagne pour mettre fin à de telles atrocités. La Coalition de la Campagne « L’Afrique pour les droits des femmes : Ratifier et Respecter » prête son soutien au thème de mobilisation de cette année : S’engager – Agir – Demander : Nous POUVONS mettre fin aux violences contre les femmes ! La Campagne souligne les besoins pour tous les acteurs, en commençant par les gouvernements, de donner leur entier soutien aux efforts entrepris pour mettre fin aux violences basées sur le genre et violences sexuelles.

La Coalition de la campagne a émis des recommandations spécifiques aux gouvernements du Burundi, du Botswana, de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), du Togo et du Mali qui ont été l’objet d’une attention particulière lors de la Campagne de 2009.

Au Burundi, les auteurs de violences sexuelles et domestiques bénéficient d’une impunité généralisée. Il n’y a pas de loi spécifique pour réprimer les violences domestiques. Le règlement extrajudiciaire des cas de viols favorisent le mariage entre l’auteur du viol et la victime. Parmi les causes de ces violences persistantes se trouvent des lois profondément discriminatoires, et en particulier les dispositions du Code des personnes et de la famille ainsi que du Code pénal, de même que les coutumes locales.

La Coalition de la campagne demande donc au gouvernement du Burundi de :

  • d' abroger ou réformer les lois discriminatoires, notamment les dispositions du Code des personnes et de la Famille, du Code Pénal et des coutumes locales ;
  • de mettre en place une législation criminalisant les violences domestiques ;
  • d' adopter une stratégie compréhensive de lutte contre toutes les formes de violence contre les femmes ; et,
  • de ratifier le Protocole additionnel à la Charte africaine des droits de l’Homme et des peuples relatif aux droits des femmes

Au Botswana, le droit coutumier, qui contient de nombreuses dispositions particulièrement discriminatoires à l’égard des femmes, continue d’être appliqué à côté du droit commun. Selon le droit coutumier, par exemple, les hommes sont perçus en tant que détenteur d’un droit de « châtier » leur femmes.

La Coalition de la campagne demande donc au gouvernement du Botswana :

  • d' abroger ou réformer les lois discriminatoires de même que le droit coutumier et de s’assurer que le droit commun prévaut sur le droit coutumier ;
  • de criminaliser le viol conjugal et ;
  • d’adopter une stratégie compréhensive de lutte contre toutes les formes de violence contre les femmes.

En République démocratique du Congo, les crimes de violence sexuelle continuent d’être commis sur une large échelle, aussi bien dans les zones de conflits que dans les zones de relative stabilité. Les deux lois sur les violences sexuelles adoptées en 2006 ont été jusque là mise en place de manière inefficace et les auteurs de violence continuent de bénéficier de l’impunité. Les pratiques traditionelles néfastes telles que la dot, le lévirat, la polygamie, les mariages forcés ou précoces, les mutilations génitales féminines et les violences domestiques restent étendues.

La Coalition de la campagne demande à la République Démocratique du Congo de mettre en place les récentes recommandations sur la lutte contre les violences contre les femmes émises par le Comité sur les Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels (Novembre 2009). En particulier, elle enjoint le gouvernement à :

  • accélérer l’adoption de la loi sur l’égalité des sexes et réformer les dispositions discriminatoires du Code de la Famille ;
  • mettre en place une législation qui interdit les pratiques traditionelles néfastes ;
  • élever l’âge minimum du mariage pour les filles à 18 ans ;
  • mettre en place la stratégie compréhensive de lutte contre les violences sexuelles adoptée par le gouvernement en Avril 2009 ; et
  • s’assurer de l’existence de réparation, de soutien psychologique et de soins médicaux pour les victimes de violence sexuelles.

Au Mali, les lois discriminatoires en particulier dans le domaine de la famille, mettent les femmes dans une situation de vulnérabilité extrême. Les pratiques traditionelles néfastes persistent, notamment les mutilations génitales féminines, les mariages forcés ou précoces et le lévirat. Après dix années de travail, la réforme du Code de la Famille a été adoptée par le Parlement en Août 2009 mais, suite à des protestations massives de la part de groupes ultraconservateurs, le Président a renvoyé la loi devant le Parlement pour une seconde lecture.

La Coalition de la campagne demande donc au gouvernement du Mali :

  • de s’assurer que la réforme proposée du Code de la Famille soit adoptée pleinement et sans délais ;
  • de criminaliser les mutilations génitales féminines et le viol entre époux ;
  • de ratifier le Protocole additionnel à la Charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples relatif aux droits des femmes.

Au Togo, les coutumes ou pratiques discriminatoires, notamment le mariage forcé ou précoce, les mutilations génitales féminines, le servage rituel, le lévirat et la répudiation sont étendues. Les attitudes patriarcales persistent et considèrent comme acceptable le châtiment des membres de la famille, notamment des femmes. Les réformes proposées du Code des Personnes et de la Famille qui auraient amendé certaines des dispositions discriminatoires ont été bloquées.

La Coalition de la campagne demande donc au gouvernement du Togo :

  • de réformer toutes les dispositions législatives discriminatoires notamment celles du code des Personnes et de la Famille
  • d' adopter des lois sur les violences domestiques, notamment le viol entre époux et sur toutes les formes d’abus sexuels, en particulier le harcèlement sexuel ;
  • d’ introduire immédiatement des mesures pour modifier et/ou éliminer les coutumes ou pratiques culturelles discriminatoires à l’encontre des femmes ;
  • de ratifier le Protocole additionnel à la Charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples relatif aux droits des femmes.

« Alors que nous célébrons la Journée internationale des droits de l’Homme, nous rappelons aux gouvernements le droit fondamental des femmes à être protégées contre toutes les formes de violence. Il est intolérable que les femmes soient encore victimes de telles atrocités, et ce de façon quotidienne, pendant que les gouvernements n’agissent pas », a souligné Souhayr Belhassen, Présidente de la FIDH. « Eliminer les violences contre les femmes avant tout une question de volonté politique » a-t-elle conclu.

Friday 10 July 2009

ENGAGEZ VOUS POUR LES DROITS DES FEMMES !

Communiqué de presse

La coalition l'Afrique pour les droits des femmes : ratifier et respecter lance un appel aux Etats n'ayant toujours pas ratifié le Protocole à la Charte africaine relatif aux droits de la femme en Afrique

english version

Le 11 juillet 2009 - Aujourd'hui le Protocole à la Charte africaine des droits de l'Homme et des peuples relatif aux droits de la femme en Afrique fêtera ses six ans. Adopté en 2003 à Maputo, Mozambique, et entré en vigueur en 2005, le Protocole a désormais été ratifié par la majorité des Etats africains qui se sont engagés à «éliminer toutes formes de discrimination à l'égard des femmes et (à) assurer la protection des droits de la femme». Cependant 26 Etats n'ont toujours pas ratifié le Protocole** .

Ce texte extrêmement important, à l'instar de la Convention des Nations unies sur l'élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination à l'égard des femmes (Convention CEDAW) ratifiée par la quasi totalité des Etats africains, offre un cadre juridique de référence pour assurer le respect des droits humains des femmes: élimination des discriminations et des pratiques néfastes; droit à la vie et à l'intégrité physique; égalité des droits en matière civile et familiale ; accès à la justice; droit de participation au processus politique; protection dans les conflits armés; droits économiques et protection sociale; droit à la santé et à la sécurité alimentaire, etc.

Convaincues que la lutte contre les discriminations et les violences à l'égard des femmes passe par la modification du cadre législatif, plus d'une centaine d'associations ont lancé, le 8 mars dernier la campagne «L'Afrique pour les droits des femmes: Ratifier et Respecter» appelant les États africains à ratifier le Protocole de Maputo et les autres instruments de protection des droits humains des femmes et à tout mettre en oeuvre pour garantir le respect de leurs dispositions.

Menée par la Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme (FIDH), en coopération avec cinq organisations régionales africaines*** , cette campagne est soutenue par de nombreuses personnalités, telles les prix Nobel de la paix Mgr Desmond Tutu et Shirin Ebadi, les prix Nobel de littérature, Wole Soyinka et Nadine Gordimer, par les artistes Angélique Kidjo, Tiken Jah Fakoly et Youssou N'Dour ou encore par Mme Soyata Maiga, Rapporteure spéciale de la Commission africaine des droits de l'Homme et des peuples sur les droits des femmes en Afrique.

Toutes les organisations et personnalités signataires de la campagne vous appellent par conséquent à saisir l'occasion de l'anniversaire du Protocole à la Charte africaine sur les droits de la femme en Afrique pour le ratifier et ainsi affirmer vos engagements en faveur des droits des femmes dans vos pays.


** Algérie, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypte, Erythrée, Ethiopie, Gabon, Guinée, Guinée équatoriale, Kenya, Madagascar, Maurice, Niger, Ouganda, République centrafricaine, Sao Tome et Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalie, Soudan, Swaziland, Tchad, Tunisie


*** Femmes Africa Solidarités (FAS), Women in Law in South Africa (WLSA), African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) et Women's aid Collective (WACOL)

COMMIT TO THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS!

Press Statement

The coalition of the campaign "Africa for women's rights : ratify and respect !" issues a call to states that have failed to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa

version française

11 July 2009 - Today marks the sixth anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Adopted in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique, the Protocol entered into force in 2005 and has now been ratified by the majority of African states which have thus committed themselves to “ensur(ing) that the rights of women are promoted, realised and protected”. However, 26 States have yet to ratify the Protocol** .

This Protocol, like the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention) which has been ratified by almost all African States, provides a legal framework of reference for ensuring respect for women's human rights: elimination of discrimination and harmful practices; right to life and to physical integrity; equality in the domain of the family and civil rights; access to justice; right to participate in the political process; protection in armed conflicts; economic rights and social protection; right to health and food security, etc.

Convinced that the fight against discrimination and violence against women requires changes to the the legal framework, on 8 March this year over one hundred organisations launched the campaign “Africa for Women's Rights: Ratify and Respect” calling on African States to ratify the Maputo Protocol and the other women's rights protection instruments and to take all necessary measures to guarantee respect of their provisions.

Initiated by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in cooperation with five African regional organisations*** , this campaign has the support of patrons including the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Literature Prize Laureates Wole Soyinka and Nadine Gordimer, the artists Angélique Kidjo, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Youssou N'Dour, as well as Ms. Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

All the organisations involved in the campaign, and the campaign's patrons, call on the Presidents of the 26 states that have not yet done so, to seize the occasion of this anniversary to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa and thus affirm their commitments to respecting the rights of women.


** Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Saharawi Arabic Democratic Republic, Sao Tome et Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda


*** Femmes Africa Solidarités (FAS), Women in Law in South Africa (WLSA), African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) et Women's aid Collective (WACOL)

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Alice Mogwe on women's rights in Botswana

Alice Mogwe, Director of the Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo), Focal Point for the Campaign, answers our questions about defending human rights in Botswana. In this interview, she lays the emphasis on women's rights, a cause to which she is particularly committed.

Monday 9 March 2009

Read the Botswana Centre for Human Rights' press statement on the campaign!

PRESS STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY - 8 MARCH 2009

“Sharing the Caring for the Future”

DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Women Against Rape, Kagisano Women’s Shelter Project and the Botswana Council of Women join the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day on 8 March 2009. These three organisations are partnering in the “Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect” year-long Campaign which will begin on International Women’s Day. Civil society organisations from Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Caper Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also participating in the campaign. The campaign will focus on the issues of discrimination and violence against women, weak adherence to international and regional women’s human rights protection instruments and the failure of States to make necessary legal and political reforms to end violations of women’s rights.

The theme for this year’s celebration in Botswana is “Sharing the Caring for the Future”. Shared rights and shared responsibilities of adults are necessary for nurturing of responsible adults of future Botswana.

International Women’s day has been observed since the early 1900s. It is an opportunity for the world to reflect on the milestones or achievements which have been made by governments, development agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), communities and individuals in order to attain equality for women.

In this regard, the undersigned organisations acknowledge the fact that the Government of Botswana has committed itself to various international and regional instruments aimed at ensuring that women’s rights are promoted and respected. In 1996 Botswana ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

At a regional level, in 1997, Botswana committed itself to the principles of the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development and in 1998 committed itself to the Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children.

At the national level, the undersigned organisations are aware of efforts which have been made by the Botswana Government to elevate the Women’s Affairs Division to the Department of Women’s Affairs. This has resulted in the Department facilitating the promotion of gender-sensitive national policies as well as coordinating capacity development training on various aspects of gender and development.

Whilst acknowledging that a number of strides have been made by the Government to advance the rights of women, the undersigned organisations call upon the Government to ensure that the international and regional instruments relating to women, to which Botswana is a party, are implemented through the strengthening of institutional capacities in both government and civil society.

We further call on the Government to show its commitment to women’s rights through the ratification of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW as well as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The Optional Protocol to CEDAW allows individual women to seek redress for violations. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa recognises the crucial role of women in the preservation of African values based on the principles of equality, freedom, dignity, justice and democracy.

The undersigned urge the Government to encourage the private sector to adopt and implement gender sensitive policies within the workplace. Political parties should also seriously commit themselves to increasing the level of representation of women in decision making and in local politics. By developing strategies to promote the improvement of women’s economic, political and social status, women’s participation in development will be further enhanced. We believe that this step will assist the country to attain the goal of “sharing the caring for the future” in keeping with the national vision of a compassionate, just and caring nation by 2016.

DITSHWANELO –THE Botswana Centre for Human Rights Women Against Rape Kagisano Women’s Shelter Project The Botswana Council of Women

8 March 2009 Gaborone

For more information, please contact DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights at Tel: 267 390 6998 Fax: 267 3907778, Website: www.ditshwanelo@info.bw, Email:admin.ditswanelo@info.bw/ditshawnelo-myfuturetoday@info.org.bw