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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reconstructing women’s rights in Africa using the African regional human rights regime : problems and possibilities Fagbongbe, Mosope Doris


The struggle for women’s rights has gained momentum in the last three decades with recognition in an assortment of international, regional and national institutions and instruments. The African human rights regime constitutes one such framework for addressing women’s rights. Activating the mechanisms of the regime for the benefit of African women, however, poses an ongoing challenge. Available data indicates African women’s continuing vulnerability to human rights violations, with their already precarious situation exacerbated by factors such as the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in some parts of Africa. This dissertation assesses the African regional human rights regime in the context of the challenges African women confront in their attempts to access it. It acknowledges that the regional initiatives created to protect rights constitute a potentially valuable framework for addressing violations of women’s rights, highlighting some successes but also exposing the limitations. The dissertation uses the case of the right to health recognised within the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa to study the question of rights at the regional level. It applies a feminist Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) perspective to highlight the inclusions and omissions of this instrument in an attempt to construct a holistic, contextual and interdependent understanding of women’s rights in Africa. This dissertation argues that such a re-reading of rights is imperative in order to accelerate women’s ability to effectively mobilise for their rights using regional human rights mechanisms. It recognises the importance of the activities and influences of diverse actors to the implementation of rights. Building on the progress made by the regime, this dissertation identifies international and particularly regional and local actors, such as the African Union and its institutions, State Parties to the African Union, governmental and non-governmental organisations and entities whose activities, directly or indirectly, have implications for women’s rights. It analyses their actions and influences and offers fresh perspectives to enable these stakeholders to further the transformation of women’s situations using the regional human rights regime.

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