A young mother in Bamako, Mali. Photo Credit: commerceandculturestock/Getty Images

Society Africa10. September 2023

A Continent-Wide Women’s Rights Protocol Has Proven to Be Truly Lifesaving

In the 20 years since its adoption by 44 out of 54 African countries, the Maputo Protocol has successfully played a role in protecting and guaranteeing women’s rights, becoming a tool for legal redress, and seeking accountability whenever the rights of women and girls are violated.

The Maputo Protocol has become the most progressive legally binding instrument to protect women and girls, including the right to health and reproduction, inheritance economic and social welfare, access to justice, education and training, equal protection before the law, and elimination of harmful practices.

Sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls are protected through articles 2 and 14, the former covering the ending of discrimination and harmful practices that endanger health and well-being, and the latter, the right to health for women, including fertility control, motherhood, and contraception. In 43 African countries, the minimum age of marriage is now 18 and there are laws banning the practice of female genital cutting in 22 of the 29 African countries where such practice is taking place.

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