By Collins Osuji
Group photograph of the heads of the Coalition shortly after the press conference on the domestication of the Maputo Protocol
Coalition of feminist organizations in Africa has urged the Nigerian government to put in place legislations that would guarantee the protection and preservation of the rights of women, especially the vulnerable in the country.
The Coalition also demanded immediate domestication of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, otherwise known as the Maputo Protocol, (CODMAP).
The call was contained in a release signed by the groups which include Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF), International Federation of Female Lawyers, (FIDA), Cedar Seed Foundation, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights (BAOBAB), Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), National Council for Women Society (NCWS)
Others are National Orientation Agency (NOA), Alliances for Africa (AfA), Centre for Gender Economics (GCE), Initiative for Gender Equality and Sexual Reproductive Health (IGE-SRH), Do Foundation and Baylesa State Gender Response Initiative Team.
According to the feminist groups, “CODMAP seeks to achieve an ultimate goal of defending and advancing the human rights of women and girls which includes; better protection against all forms of violence, access to justice, economic and political empowerment among others.”
They stressed that the Protocol when domesticated would address issues of gender inequality in political participation and representation, access to quality education, economic empowerment, social integration and development, access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, abuse and violence against women and girls, including women with disabilities, among others.
The groups also urged the government, critical stakeholders and concerned individuals to partner on effort to promote and popularize the Protocol by conducting workshops, and enlightening communities about its relevance and benefits to the society.
The release partly reads, “over half of the African Union’s member states have signed this Protocol, and a significant number have also ratified it. However, the process of fully incorporating its provisions into national laws and policies, known as domestication, remains a pressing need hence the full potential of the Maputo Protocol remains untapped.
“Nigeria, as a signatory to the Protocol, has committed to upholding and implementing its provisions to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment by ratifying the Protocol on the 13th of June, 2005.
“Despite Nigeria’s commitment 18 years ago, many are unaware of the Maputo Protocol. This lack of awareness fuels inaction, causing ongoing discrimination, marginalization, violence, and barriers to accessing fundamental rights.”
“Beyond ratification, we call upon the Nigerian government to fulfill its commitment by domesticating the Maputo Protocol into national legislation and aligning existing laws with its provisions.
“We advocate for popularizing and promoting the Protocol to spark demand and drive full implementation. The uniqueness of the Maputo protocol to other laws is that it is enshrined in the African culture and context, recognizing the peculiar challenges African women face.” it added.