Sadc donors-brief-on-international-legal-obligations[1]

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Sadc donors-brief-on-international-legal-obligations[1]

  1. 1. The African Women’s Protocol: Act now to support women’s reproductive rights and roll back HIV ISSUE BRIEF JUNE 2010 – SADC & DONORS Achieving the MDGs requires that Reproductive Rights and HIV women in Africa have universal access to reproductive health care Reproductive rights and HIV and AIDS are fundamentally linked. The UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011 reinforces the critical link I n 2010 the international community will come together twice. First to review how countries are between human and women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, as a key component of an effective progressing towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and second to response to the epidemic. The Framework recognises assess whether Universal Access to HIV Prevention, that a significant reduction of HIV infections can only Treatment, Care and Support have been achieved. be achieved through a “dramatic increase in Neither meeting will tell a story of success. community, national and global action for sexual and reproductive health and rights”. The lack of universal access for women to reproductive health services is undermining the possibility of Excerpt from the International Conference on achieving the MDGs in 2015 – particularly MDGs 5 and Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of 6. It is also part and parcel of the failure to secure Action Universal Access by 2010 and is a major factor in the “Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights high burden of HIV and AIDS on the African continent. that are already recognized in national laws, Securing women’s access to reproductive rights is a international human rights documents and other major challenge for 2010 and onwards. Achieving relevant UN consensus documents. universal access to reproductive rights across Africa is “These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right important in and of itself; important in the achievement of the MDGs and critical to rolling back the HIV and of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their AIDS epidemic in the regions worst affected. children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of  Achieving the MDGs requires that women in Africa have universal access to reproductive health care  The African Women’s Protocol is the continent’s commitment to achieving universal access to reproductive health care for women, thereby rolling back HIV in Africa  A requirement to realising the vision of the African Women’s Protocol is that all African governments ratify, domesticate, and transparently report on it Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus, J block, Level 4, University Rd, Durban, South Africa Tel: +27 (0)31 260 2592 | Fax: +27 (0)31 260 2587 | heard@ukzn.ac.za | www.heard.org.za
  2. 2. sexual and reproductive health. They also include Articles 14 (1 and 2) of the African Women’s Protocol the right of all to make decisions concerning clearly set out three major components of women’s reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and reproductive health care: violence”  Reproductive and sexual decision making, Women’s rights, including women’s reproductive rights, including the number and spacing of children, are central to the ability of women to take control of contraceptive choice and the right to self- their own health, including their sexual and protection from HIV reproductive health, and to take actions to avoid HIV- infection. Women may lack adequate information about  Access to information about HIV and AIDS and contraceptive choices; HIV prevention strategies such reproductive health as male and female condoms may be unavailable; reproductive health services may be weak and under-  Access to reproductive health services, funded; and comprehensive reproductive and sexual including ante-natal services. health information may be denied. Fully implemented, the African Women’s Protocol In addition, if women become infected with HIV, lack of provides a rights-based framework through which reproductive rights may prevent them from seeking universal access to reproductive health care for treatment, care and support. For example, women may women can be achieved. Achieving universal access be afraid to access programmes to reduce the risk of to reproductive health rights would be a major step mother-to-child transmission of HIV because of fear of towards rolling back HIV in Africa. abandonment or violence from their partner. A requirement to realising the vision of The African Women’s Protocol is the the African Women’s Protocol is that all continent’s commitment to achieving African governments ratify, domesticate, universal access to reproductive health and transparently report on it care for women, thereby rolling back HIV in Africa To achieve the promise and vision offered by the African Women’s Protocol, all African governments Adopted by the African Union in 2003 and entered into must ratify the Protocol if they have not already done force on 25 November 2005, The Protocol to the so. The record so far is not impressive (see Table 1). African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, (the African Women’s Protocol) offers a historic vision for women’s reproductive health rights in Africa. Developed by African governments, it provides clear guidance on the duties of African states in relation to women’s reproductive health rights. In addition, for the first time in an international treaty, there is specific mention of HIV and AIDS linked directly to reproductive health rights. Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division Author: Andrew Gibbs, HEARD: gibbs@ukzn.ac.za
  3. 3. SADC Country Ratified SADC Country Ratified Angola Yes Namibia Yes Botswana No Seychelles Yes DRC Yes South Africa Yes Lesotho Yes Swaziland No Madagascar No Tanzania Yes Malawi Yes Zambia Yes Mauritius No Zimbabwe Yes Mozambique Yes Table 1: Ratification of the African Women’s Protocol by SADC Countries – see :http://www.soawr.org/en/auprotocol/article/protocol_watch/ for regular changes to the list SADC Country Ratified SADC Country Ratified Ratification is not enough. All African governments All actors need to work with those governments that Angola No must also domesticate the African Women’s Protocol Namibia not already ratified the African Yes have Women’s Protocol Botswana No through signing the Protocol into law where necessary, Seychelles Yes to encourage them to do so. The African Women’s DRC No and undertaking a comprehensive review of existing South Africaoffers a continent-wide vision for women’s Protocol Yes Lesotho Yes legislation in light of the African Women’s Protocol Swaziland No reproductive rights; to enable this to be achieved all Madagascar provisions. No Tanzania Yes governments within SADC need to ratify the Protocol. Malawi Yes Zambia can work with governments Yes Actors to identify barriers Finally all governments need to reportNo Mauritius transparently Zimbabwe Yes to ratification and work to resolve these. In so doing Mozambique Yes through the framework set out by the African Women’s governments can commit themselves to a progressive Protocol to enable African Africanand civil society Table 1: Ratification of the Union Women’s Protocol by SADC Countries agenda for women’s reproductive rights and rolling monitoring of governments’ actions in relation to the back the HIV epidemic. The ratification of the African Protocol. So far, no country that has ratified the African Women’s Protocol will enable countries to move Women’s Protocol has transparently reported on its towards achieving the MDGs and Universal Access. obligations to the African Women’s Protocol. Support all governments in SADC to domesticate and Responsibilities transparently report on the African Women’s Protocol The African Women’s Protocol provides an Where countries have ratified the African Women’s unparalleled opportunity to ensure women’s Protocol, actors can support governments in SADC to reproductive rights are enshrined in national laws, domesticate and transparently report on their providing a strong foundation from which to ensure a implementation of the Protocol, by providing technical rights-based response to the HIV epidemic. There are support and additional funding. Technical support may three key areas that all actors can focus on to support be needed by governments to review existing governments in their role of enabling the achievement legislation in light of the African Women’s Protocol and of the African Women’s Protocol. thereafter develop new legislation. The SADC Parliamentary Forum’s Model Law on HIV/AIDS in Work with the governments of Botswana, the Southern Africa offers a progressive framework that Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mauritius could be supported in this regard. Further technical and Swaziland to enable the ratification of the African support may be needed to support the implementation Women’s Protocol of women’s reproductive health care, especially where this would require additional or expanded services. In Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division Author: Andrew Gibbs, HEARD: gibbs@ukzn.ac.za
  4. 4. addition, technical support may be needed to increase Key resources the reporting capacity of countries. Gerntholtz, L. & Grant, C. (2010) A review of The cost of implementing the provisions of the African international, African and country legal obligations on Women’s Protocol might necessitate the provision of women’s equality in relation to sexual and reproductive external funding. Funding reviews of existing laws and health, including HIV&AIDS. HEARD, ARASA: Durban, the development of new laws to ensure legal South Africa. confluence between laws and the African Women’s Protocol may be required. Available: www.heard.org.za Ensure alignment of programmes and funding to The Protocol of the African Charter on Human and further the aims of the African Women’s Protocol Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. All actors need to ensure that the programmes they Available: www.achpr.org run and the funding they channel is closely aligned to the African Women’s Protocol. This may require review Oxfam UK has been working to support the and action on three key areas of programming and implementation of the African Women’s Protocol funding: across the continent.  Reproductive and sexual decision making, www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/learning/gender/program including the number and spacing of children, meinsights_africa_womens_protocol.html contraceptive choice and the right to self- protection from HIV Center for Reproductive Rights (2006) The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa: An Instrument for  Access to information about HIV and AIDS and Advancing Reproductive and Sexual Rights. Briefing reproductive health Paper, Center for Reproductive Rights: New York.  Access to reproductive health services, Available: www.reproductiverights.org including ante-natal services. UNAIDS (2000) Joint Action for Results: UNAIDS Ensuring programmes and funding support the aims of Outcomes Framework 2009-2011. Geneva: UNAIDS. the African Women’s Protocol is a critical stance that actors can take to ensure the progressive realisation of SADC PF (2008) Model Law on HIV & AIDS in women’s reproductive rights. Southern Africa. SADC PF. Available: www.sadcpf.org/hivaids Action Points  Work with the governments of Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mauritius and Swaziland to enable the ratification of the African Women’s Protocol  Support all governments in SADC to domesticate and transparently report on the African Women’s Protocol  Ensure alignment of programmes and funding to further the aims of the African Women’s Protocol Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division Author: Andrew Gibbs, HEARD: gibbs@ukzn.ac.za

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