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Women’s rights in Africa – UN and African Union launch report ahead of International Women’s Day

GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA (7 March 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office today launched, together with the African Union and UN Women, a report into women’s rights in Africa. It is the first in a planned series about women’s human rights on the continent that will address various thematic issues.

There have been great strides in realising women’s rights in Africa - for example, female participation in African legislatures surpasses that of many developed countries. There are now provisions on sexual and gender-based violence, economic, social and cultural rights and non-discrimination in constitutions and policies across the continent.

But in every country in Africa, as around the world, women continued to be denied full enjoyment of their rights.

Among some of the report’s statistics: in six African countries, there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence. In 2013, African women and girls accounted for 62 percent of all global deaths from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. An estimated 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, mainly in Africa. If current trends continue, almost half of the world’s child brides in 2050 will be African.

In Africa, and globally, it is clear that when women are able to exercise their rights to access to education, skills, and jobs, there is a surge in prosperity, positive health outcomes, and greater freedom and well-being, not only of women but of the whole society.

In many countries, gaps in protecting women’s rights are compounded by political instability and conflict. The report stresses that women should not be seen only as victims but, for example, as active agents in formal and informal peace building processes. 

Among its recommendations, the report calls on African governments to encourage women’s full and productive employment, to recognize the importance of unpaid care and domestic work, and to ensure women can access and control their own economic and financial resources.


For more information and media requests, contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org ) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org )

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