The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, Held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,
Noting that 22 years after the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by the Assembly of Heads of States at its 18th Session n 1981, the situation of human rights of African women continue to be bleak.
Noting further that African women continue to suffer fro violence and discrimination meted out n the name of culture and religion and also sanctioned legally in some cases;
Considering the fact that women in Africa continue to suffer fro harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, abduction, forced and early marriages, “trokosi” (slavery practice), wife inheritance upon the death of a husband and degrading and humiliating rituals imposed on widows;
Concerned about women’s lack of access to land and ownership of land, discrimination in law and discrimination in the political process;
The Participants of the Forum call on the African Commission to urge State Parties to:
a) Take action to reverse the above described situation in order to improve the human rights situation of African women.
b) Increase their efforts to end harmful traditional practices by introducing legislations against such practices where it does not exist and also enforcing the law where it exist as well as to complement legislation with resources allocation for sensitising communities against these harmful practices and training law enforcement agents to take necessary action to protect girls and women from these practices.
c) Take steps to repeal constitutional provisions that impose customary practices as the primary rule for matters concerning family law, and instead domesticate the provisions outlined in CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) and other important covenants that African States have signed and ratified.
d) Adopt affirmative action policies to increase women’s access to social, economic and political rights.
Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003