African Heads of States must integrate women’s issues as they discuss the Year of Peace and ICTs

The year 2010 has been declared a year of peace and security in Africa by the African Union. The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR) is calling on African Heads of State and Government gathered at the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 31st January to 2nd February, 2010 to ensure that women are not left out as they deliberate on the Year of Peace in Africa (2010).
SOAWR [1] is calling upon the Heads of State and Government of the AU to ensure that decisions taken during this Summit address the disproportionate impact of conflict on women in Africa compared to men and put in place measures that ensure women’s full and effective participation and representation in the AU’s Peace and Security Architecture, and peace processes including conflict prevention, resolution, management and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa as stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).
While significant progress has been to resolve conflicts in our continent, the security situation in Africa continues to be volatile as reflected in the situations in the Sudan, DRC, Guinea Conakry and Somalia. Women continue to bear the brunt of these conflicts, including gross violations of their human rights including but not limited to sexual abuse, displacement and loss of life and livelihoods. The AU and the United Nations have passed and adopted various resolutions and legal documents o ensure the protection of women in situations of conflict that are yet to be implemented, leading to impunity on violations of women’s rights during conflict and their marginalization in peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction programmes.
 SOAWR is urging African States to accelerate implementation of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) and the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889 on women and peace. These frameworks represent a major step to enhance the promotion and protection of rights of women but remain aspirations without implementation. As the world prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in October this year (2010) we appeal to the  AU Heads of State and Government to ensure more women’s rights are protected in conflict situations by prosecuting perpetrators of sexual abuse and that women effectively and fully participate in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction processes.
The 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union is also being held under the theme “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development.
 SOAWR calls on heads of states to ensure that decisions on ICTs at the summit include measures that:

  1. Enact and implement Freedom of Information laws and urgently repeal restrictive media and other laws on freedom of expression
  2. Promote use of ICTs to increase awareness among women on their rights and facilitate informed decision-making. This could include initiatives that enable citizens to use SMS helplines to report human rights violations
  3. Promote the use of ICTs to increase understanding, knowledge sharing and action on HIV/AIDS, and preventable diseases that cause maternal and child morbidity and mortality as a gender and human rights issue
  4. Invest in research on the emerging uses of ICTs by perpetrators of violence against women and generate gender-disaggregated data to this effect
  5. Support the use of ICTs in education (formal and informal) and literacy programmes so as to build ICT skills among young and adult women, and increase awareness about the opportunities for development using ICTs
  6. Support girls and women to take courses at higher education levels that are relevant for employment in the ICTs sectFor further information, contact:

Carlyn Hambuba, Communication Officer:
Cell: + 251 910 980 669 (Addis Ababa)
Tel: + (254) 20 2712971/2 or + (254) 20 2341516/7 (Wireless)  
To book interviews with SOAWR Coalition Secretariat, contact Ms. Faiza Mohamed, Regional Director of Equality Now, in Addis Ababa.: + 2510 910 980 669

Note to Editors:
The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) is a regional network made up of 36 national, regional and international civil society organisations working towards the promotion and protection of Women’s Human Rights in Africa. Since its inauguration in 2004, SOAWR’s main area of focus has been to compel African states to urgently sign, ratify, domesticate and fully implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. As of December 2009, 27 countries have ratified the Protocol. The following countries are yet to ratify: Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland and Uganda and Tunisia 

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