Women at risk without domestication of Maputo protocol – NBA, FIDA
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has called on African countries to domesticate the Maputo protocol, an international human rights instrument on the protection of rights of women in the continent.
This is as the organisation stressed the need for stakeholders to employ the use of technology to accelerate the domestication of the protocol.
The lawyers stated these at the FIDA Africa regional congress themed ‘Maputo Protocol and Women in Africa: Digital Technology As A Vital Tool for Acceleration’ on Friday in Abuja.
The Maputo protocol, an international human rights instrument was adopted in Mozambique on July 11, 2003 with the aim of guaranteeing comprehensive rights to women, including the right to participate in the political process, to social and political equality with men.
Speaking, wife of former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, lamented that despite being introduced about 13 years ago, Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill has failed to scale through at the National Assembly.
She also expressed concern for the low number of women elected into the National Assembly in the 2023 general elections.
While stressing the need for women lawyers to play significant role in the sensitising citizens on the need for domestication of the Maputo protocol, Fayemi warned that without concrete and practical measures, Nigeria will continue to see abysmal performance of women in policy, business and decision making.
She added that the role of technology in accelerating the domestication of the protocol cannot be overemphasised.
Fayemi said: “FIDA has a role to play in ongoing awareness and sensitisation. Many people do not know what Maputo protocol is all about and how it can use by various stakeholders. We cannot make progress if people do not know the importance of the law.
“FIDA also need continue making the case for legislative and policy framework. One of the major challenges we are faced with is what we call lack of adequate national domestication. For example, in Nigeria, in the past four electoral cycle, Nigerian women representation in political environment has gone from bad to worse. We went from five per cent of women in the national assembly down to 3.5 per cent in the 2023 general elections.
“We have state houses of assemblies that there are no women at all. Without concrete and practical measures, we will continue to see abysmal performance of women in policy, business and decision making.
“We have a gender and equal opportunities bill that is meant to address the domestication of Maputo protocol. These bills have not been passed and we hope the 10th national assembly will do the right thing by passing the bills.
“I also recommend that National and local policy should be as gender inclusive as possible in order to bridge knowledge and digital gap. Technology should be more accessible and affordable.”
Regional vice president of FIDA, Africa (North and West), Joy Ejim, said there has been little progress relating to Nigeria since the Maputo protocol was established.
She called on the government both at national and state level to live up to their obligations by bringing up policies to encourage women participation in politics.
Ejim stated: “After 20 years we will not say we have not done anything, there’s progress. You recall that the Maputo protocol also talks about inheritance rights. Today, in certain parts of Nigeria, the rights of women in terms of inheritance that are being recognized.
“In the east, for example, now you can recognize the rights of a widow, daughters, unlike before.
“The rise in technology tools offers a glaring opportunity to accelerate the robust empowerment of women and girls in Africa. Thus, FIDA appreciates the need to leverage digital tools to improve women’s participation. indeed, FIDA is already making giant strides in this regard, to enhance cooperation with various actors in the continent, including regional/national/local FIDA chapters, national governments, civil society organisations, the private sector and international and local donor agencies. We can only get better as we engage through the instrumentality of fora such as this Congres
“The main idea behind this congress is about technology. How can technology even help in accelerating that protocol? And this is why we want to encourage everybody to help ensuring that women’s rights are recognized.
“For example, we’re going to be talking about engaging men towards gender equity and equality, and inclusion. We can’t fight this battle alone. In fact, we don’t see it as a fight, we see it as partnership. That’s why we need to orientate our boys and husbands because the boy of today will be a husband tomorrow.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Yakubu Maikyau, stressed the need for government at all levels to realize, acknowledge and help promote the rights of women and give them enough space to participate in the society.
He said the participation of women in governance is required for peace, development, peace and economic prosperity In the country.
Maikyau stated: “This conference centered around the rights of women within the context of human rights, the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights and you cannot discount the place of women in our society.
“And the earlier we begin to realize, acknowledge and help promote the rights of women and give them enough space to participate in everything that we do the better for us as a nation. This is because that is the point at which we will begin to not only experience but will begin to realize development, peace and economic prosperity in our country,
“Women are born naturally. They are wired in such a way to take care of all of us. I will never forget the fact that my mother sold firewood for me to go to school. She did, and I will never be able to thank her enough. How many parents will do these kind of sacrifices in order to raise their children. And by the time you aggregate these concerns by women from the family level to the national level, we begin to deliberate and consciously recognize them and allow them to bring what God has put in them by virtue of creation.
On using technology to ensure that the Maputo protocol is implemented, he added: “Talking about the use of technology in order to bring enhancement to the essence of that Maputo protocol, technology is not just a tool in this generation, it is the tool for everything we do. So when you realize the potential of women like I just said, and you heard the language of this generation, which is technology, then you have simply enable women to bring up the best in them.”
On her part, a member of Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), Lensa Gelata, urged countries to do away with different laws which were discriminatory to the rights of women and children.
She said: “One of the things that we should take seriously when it comes to women issues is that it should be a taboo in general whenever we see violations of women and gender based violence. We shouldn’t see this as just woman issue but our issue, society issue.
“So I guess one of the thing is we have to keep creating awareness as well as sensitizing people on this issue so that we can reach a position to say that this thing is completely unacceptable in the country, and continent as well. We have to engage each actors, including men and women. Women rights issues are human rights issues.”
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