Network of African National Human Rights Institutions

Declaration & Action Plan, NHRIs Forum April 2021

Cognizant of the various resolutions adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights which have laid a solid framework for addressing women’s rights. These include Resolution 283 on the Situation of Women and Children in Armed Conflict, Resolution 262 on Women’s Right to Land and Productive Resources; and Resolution 409 on the Need to Adopt Legal Measures for the Protection of Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa. The Commission has further developed General Comments and Guidelines on specific topics to provide interpretative guidance to member states on the provisions of the Maputo Protocol and the required states’ responses on women and girls’ rights;

Reaffirming the important role that NHRIs play in promoting and protecting rights of women by holding states accountable to the implementation of human rights standards, through complaints handling, providing advice in the formulation of policies and legislation, conducting research and training on women’s rights, monitoring compliance with international human rights treaties and advocating for equal opportunities, respect for the rights of women and girls, among other functions;

We, the participants of the NHRIs Forum, adopt the following action plan to contribute to the realization of indigenous women’s rights in Africa:

I. Research, advocacy, human rights education and awareness raising

  • Document the experiences and contributions of indigenous African women to ensure young women and men of Africa learn from their contributions;
  • Promote the preservation of memory by building historic sites and monuments under the names of women to honour them;
  • Continue challenging the narrative about the role of women and profile them as agents of transformative culture in Africa, using indigenous women of Africa as an example of resilience and whose knowledge and experiences need to be preserved;
  • Promote awareness of the emerging jurisprudence at the regional and international levels regarding the rights of indigenous peoples’;
  • Support the review of national policy and legislation as well as practice relating to indigenous peoples’ to bridge the gap between international standards and national laws, policies and practices;
  • Debunk certain beliefs, attitudes and practices regarding cultural rights of indigenous peoples’ including indigenous women;
  • Undertake capacity building for state and non‐state actors involved in human rights and wider governance sector to enhance the appreciation of the dynamic nature of culture and promote good cultural practices that are not harmful in line with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Maputo Protocol;
  • Conduct trainings and other capacity building activities for relevant government bodies to promote ratification of Maputo Protocol;
  • Encourage positive cultural practices that place women centrally in the communities while at the same time discouraging practices that are harmful to women such as FGM, early/forced marriages, wife inheritance, etc;
  • Leverage on cultural celebrations organized by different communities including indigenous communities, to educate/sensitize members of the public on human rights and culture;
  • Coordinate, facilitate and participate in the review of relevant human rights proposed legislation, to ensure compliance with international human rights principles, standards and best practices and the integration of traditional and indigenous knowledge;
  • Continuously advocate for the recognition of culture as a human right and the existence of an enabling environment for the practice of cultural practices, including land tenure rights of indigenous people (and indigenous women);
  • Advise governments on implementation of decisions made in favour of the indigenous peoples by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights and other international human rights bodies;
  • Encourage states to allocate sufficient resources to programs that promote the realisation of indigenous women’s rights;
  • Identify strategic issues relating to women rights for advocacy towards ratification of the Maputo Protocol;
  • Undertake activities to build capacities of NHRIs to work on the rights of indigenous women; and
  • Proactively engage governments on ending impunity relating to violations on the rights of indigenous women.

II. Complaint handling and facilitating redress

  • Support the identification of human rights concerns relating to indigenous women in their cultural context and the formulation of strategies to address the concerns identified;
  • Facilitate remedies in the event of violations, including the use of culture such as traditional justice systems to promote and protect indigenous women’s rights;
  • Seek judicial remedies such as through public interest litigation and where relevant support court actions seeking to assert indigenous women rights to culture, including by availing to the court the expertise of the NHRI as amicus curiae, to advance human rights friendly jurisprudence for the realization of the rights of indigenous women; and
  • Support and work with traditional justice actors, to among other things, ensure the representation of women and their participation in the dispute resolution processes.

III. Strengthening partnerships for the promotion and protection of indigenous
women rights

  • Create platforms for women and the civil society to communicate, collaborate and build relationships with relevant actors, as well as with members of the private and public sectors;
  • Encourage creation of networking and mentoring platforms for indigenous women;
  •  Strengthen engagements with gender desks in government ministries and other institutions towards the promotion and protection of indigenous women’s rights;
  • Strengthen communication and coordination among the different actors working on the rights of women such as land rights and others, to enhance synergy among the stakeholders;
  • Advocate for the adoption and implementation of the Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index which provides an evidence‐based feedback mechanism on the implementation of the Protocol, and also provides advocacy opportunities for CSOs and NHRIs in supporting member states’ efforts and holding them accountable to the commitments made;
  • Mobilise journalist networks and human rights defenders to denounce violations on women’s rights;
  • Establish dialogue and strengthen engagements with leaders in all sectors including parliamentary committees responsible for women’s rights, religious leaders, traditional leaders, and other bodies that can support in advocacy for the rights of indigenous women;
  • Ensure involvement of the indigenous women in the discourses relating to the human rights situation;
  • Advocate for the establishment and strengthening capacities of central units within governments for reporting to regional human rights mechanisms;
  • Partner with African Union and United Nations bodies to undertake advocacy activities in countries that have not ratified the Maputo Protocol, among other regional human rights treaties, to accelerate the ratification; and
  • Strengthen cooperation with African Commision on Human and Peoples’ Rights Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and Minorities in Africa and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women.

IV. Reporting on implementation of this action plan

  • Develop and share reports with NANHRI and other stakeholders annually, on the implementation of this action plan, for compilation of progress made and good practices.

Done on April 09, 2021 (online)