Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) said incidents of violence against women and children in armed conflicts continued unabated in many parts of Africa.
AU Commission Gender and Development Directorate presented its report at the AUPSC 122nd meeting on Tuesday under the theme Mitigating Vulnerabilities of Women and Children in Armed Conflicts.
The Directorate said it is working towards mobilizing financial support for various programs and projects for women to fight poverty and close the gender gap and thereby halt Africa women’s marginalization.
According to the report thousands more children are subjects to a range of violations including forced prostitutions, gang rape, mutilation and economic exploitation.
The report said only 27 AU members states had ratified the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People Rights on the Rights of women in Africa.
It further said other 21 member states have signed the protocol but have yet to ratify, but five countries have yet to sign.
The protocol provides an explicit framework outlining the rights of women on the continent and specially calls for women’s protection against all forms of violence including international crimes that occur during conflicts, it said.
Concerning to the rights of children, the report recalled that the then OAU adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) in 1990.
The Charter prohibits the recruitment of children by armed actors and specifically identifies the need to respect international humanitarian law regarding children during armed conflict. It also explicitly prohibit the sexual exploitation of children as for the protection of internally displaced and refugee children.
The report urged member state to endorse the charter and to domesticate and implement it with commitment.
The report said the year 2010 heralds the African Women’s decade (2010-20) which is intended to advance gender equality by accelerating implementation of various decisions, through dual top down and bottom up approach which inclusive of grassroots participation.
The report said the AU and its member states have already demonstrated a firm commitment to address issues related to women and children in armed conflict through well-defined human rights mechanisms.
Nonetheless, it said despite the considerable measures put in place to protect the rights of women and children during armed conflicts implementation remains fragment.
The report recommended high level visits to members state who have not ratified the protocol and the charter in order to encourage heads of states to ratify and domesticate, ensure the appointment of women Gender Focal Points in each AU peacekeeping mission and as special envoys and special Representative of AU.
The report called for accountability and end impunity by prosecuting perpetrators of violence against women and children at the national and regional level.