Today we have a unique opportunity. African heads of state are gathered in Kigali at the bi-annual African Union Summit to talk about women’s rights. It’s not every day that this happens, so we better make sure they are having conversations and making decisions that count for African women and girls. This is the first time that the AU has given women a special focus. The basis of their conversations is the Maputo Protocol, which is meant to be the blueprint for African women’s rights. 13 years after it was brought in to force only 37 countries have signed and ratified, 17 have signed and not yet ratified and only 5 countries have reported on the Protocol.
If this is truly to be the year of the African woman, it is time that they demonstrated their commitment in a manner that will deliver the Africa we want for women and girls. This is where you come in. With the power of social media, for the first time in African history we have the opportunity to speak in one clear voice demanding that our presidents do one thing: Follow The Protocol.
Let us make it clear as Africans of all walks of life, ages, religions, with all our vibrant cultures and identities, that we all share a vision of an Africa where women and girls are treated and valued as human beings. So simple and yet somehow difficult for humans to grasp.
This is not the women’s movement’s responsibility. This is about all of us. This is about you. This is an African movement for women and girls. Please join us by lending your voice in saying these three simple and critical words to our presidents: #FollowTheProtocol.
While this campaign is hosted by FEMNET, delivering #TheAfricaWeWant for women and girls should be our collective responsibility and not the work of one individual activist, organization, community or movement. The Ubuntu culture of Africa is one that we should all embody.
You can reach audiences and networks that nobody else can, and the message to #FollowTheProtocol is simple and powerful. While this is a 3 month campaign, with various strategies, today is a critical moment to get the attention of all our heads of state.