Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Maputo Procotol: Journalists urged to promote women’s rights

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
03 June 2023   |   3:55 am
In its bid to ensure that the Maputo Protocol, a treaty which Nigeria is a signatory to, is implemented and domesticated, a sensitisation workshop was recently held for journalists to bring women’s rights issues to the front burner.

A cross section of facilitators and journalists at the workshop organised by Baobab for Women’s Human’s Right on the Maputo Protocol held recently in Abuja.

In its bid to ensure that the Maputo Protocol, a treaty which Nigeria is a signatory to, is implemented and domesticated, a sensitisation workshop was recently held for journalists to bring women’s rights issues to the front burner.

The Maputo Protocol, officially adopted by the African Union, is aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of African women by addressing the specific challenges they face, including gender-based violence, discrimination and limited access to healthcare and education.

This was the thrust of a one-day capacity building workshop organised by BAOBAB For Women’s Human Rights in partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through Equality Now and the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR).

The event, held with the theme, ‘Accelerating Women’s Progress with the Maputo Protocol: The Role of the Nigerian Media’, in Abuja.

The protocol, which comes in 23 Articles addressed elimination of discrimination against women, right to dignity, life, integrity and security of persons; elimination of harmful practices; marriage – separation, divorce and annulment; access to justice and equal protection before the law; right to peace; protection of women in armed conflicts; health and reproductive rights; widows rights and inheritance.

Others are right to a healthy and sustainable environment; right to adequate housing; positive cultural context; food security; special protection of elderly women; women with disabilities; women in distress; economic and social welfare rights.

Executive Director of BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Bunmi Dipo-Salami, said the protocol seeks to eliminate discrimination against women and promote their full and equal participation in all aspects of life, including social, economic and political spheres.

“The Maputo Protocol offers significant potential to guarantee the rights of women and girls as it covers a wide range of issues related to women’s rights, including the right to participate in government and politics, the right to own and inherit property, the right to access healthcare and education, the right to control their own fertility, and the right to be protected from violence and harmful practices,” she said.

Though considered a landmark in the promotion of women’s rights in Africa, there is still much work to be done to ensure that its provisions are fully implemented and enforced. As of April 2022, the Maputo Protocol has been ratified by 43 of the 55 AU member states, including Nigeria.

Dipo-Salami noted that the essence of the training was to improve the capacity of journalists to report on the substantive provisions of the Maputo Protocol from an informed perspective, and stimulate actions for the domestication and implementation of the Protocol in Nigeria. She also said she hopes to see increased awareness and visibility of the Protocol in Nigeria for the improvement of the lives of women and girls, and enhanced dialogue and action to domesticate and implement it in Nigeria.

Chief facilitator of the event, Ms. Ene Ede, said that journalists play a powerful role in telling the true state of affairs in society.

“If you look at the protocol, it talks about the basic needs as humans, nothing excessive. A major challenge to the advancement of women’s rights is the lack of domestication of international and regional treaties and poor implementation of protective national laws and policies. Hence journalists have a huge role to play to strengthen these conversations to ensure that the protocol is fully implemented,” said Ede, an equity advocate and trauma management expert.

Director, Public Policy Initiative, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation and Member, BAOBAB Board of Directors, Mr. Amara Nwankpa, who spoke on the ‘Intersection of the Rule of Law, Inclusive and Sustainable Development’, stressed on the need to develop oneself to impact the community where one operates, adding that it brings sustainable development.

Programme Director, BAOBAB, Ms. Anne Lawal, noted that the future of the Maputo protocol was bright in the continent as people were engaging with it.

“This will take the Nigerian and African woman to the next level,” she noted.