THEME: ADVANCING ACCESS TO COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN WOMEN AND GIRLS
The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) with the support from SIDA, will be developing a thematic Africa Barometer on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. This document will be bench-marked on the Maputo Protocol and the Maputo Plan of Action on SRHR. The Barometer will be specifically for Sub-Sahara Africa, covering three regions; East, West and Southern Africa for now. As part of the development of the Barometer, FEMNET set up a reference group and with representation consisting of women rights organizations that work at regional and sub-regional levels. It is against this background that Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) was identified to be part of the reference group representing West Africa.
In the reference group meeting there were twelve (12) women participants from six countries; Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and one Consultant, Ms Colleen Low Morna. The Africa Barometer is going to be thematic and that is why the reference group comprises of women rights organizations that have developed Barometers before. The reference group is going to focus on Sub-Sahara region.
Hon. Tezira Jamwa represented EASSI. She talked about a few laws that have been enacted by the Parliament of Uganda, that include; FGM law, Domestic Violence Act, Human Trafficking Act and others in the pipeline like the Marriage and Divorce Bill and the EAC Gender Equality & Development (GED) Pilot Barometer. She also added that while these good laws are in place, the implementation is very weak.
Esther Waweru from SOAWR stated that we need to use the law to have justice for the girl child. And that we must bush for a strong continental document that will clearly articulate women equality. She emphasized that there isn’t strong articulation from women equality in the African Charter. She also pointed out that there are things that are unique to Africa, hence the need for Africa Barometer.
Ms Catherine Nyambura from FEMNET said that the Africa Women Bill of Right has not lived up to its expectations and that we see a lot of apathy. Culture and Religion considered unafrican and that we have moved back to Sexual and Reproductive Health Right. It is critical for us to develop a African Barometer. So many women are dying and young people are also dying of HIV/AIDs. The Africa Barometer will empower young women to have a voice to stand up to issues of sexual reproductive health that affect them.
In conclusion, the Africa Barometer is going to be very successful because it is thematic and the theme has many issues that cut across the continent. The background is going to be based on Maputo Protocol and taking more collaborative approach. SRHR is development imperative. SRHR is access to gender equality!