African Union Chair Ought to Protect Women’s Rights in Equatorial Guinea

African Union Chair Ought to Protect Women’s Rights in Equatorial Guinea

March 8, 2011
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As the world today celebrates the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, the new Chair of the African Union, should apply to his own country the principles that the African Union has outlined to guarantee equal rights for women, EG Justice said today. Women in Equatorial Guinea continue to be underserved by the education system, underrepresented in the workforce, and many lack access to affordable health care.

(Washington, DC, March 8, 2011)—As the world today celebrates the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, the new Chair of the African Union, should apply to his own country the principles that the African Union has outlined to guarantee equal rights for women, EG Justice said today. Women in Equatorial Guinea continue to be underserved by the education system, underrepresented in the workforce, and many lack access to affordable health care.

“If Africans are to take the new leader of the African Union seriously, he must demonstrate a serious and unwavering commitment to promoting and protecting the values of the African Union,” said Tutu Alicante, the executive director of EG Justice. “Mr. Obiang could begin by ratifying the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and applying the African Union’s principles to his own country through concrete and verifiable actions.”

In Equatorial Guinea, an average of 82 percent of the girls in each primary school grade are overage, an indication that the country’s education system has been long-neglected. Furthermore, only 38 percent of primary school teachers are women. Similar gender disparities exist in other sectors of the workforce: less than 40 percent of women were active in the labor force in 2008, and only six of the country’s 100 parliamentarians are women. In addition, women face challenges gaining access to affordable health care. Between 2000 and 2008, only 63 percent of all births were attended by skilled health personnel.

Meanwhile, the African Union has outlined a number of treaties and resolutions that guarantee the protection of women’s right to equal and fair treatment. Article 4 of the African Union’s Constitutive Act, for instance, states that the “promotion of gender equality” is a core principle of the African Union. Article 18 of the African Union’s Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights asserts that all states “shall ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women.” The government of Equatorial Guinea, however, has not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. 

“Women are a vital force for economic, social, and political development across the African continent,” said Mr. Alicante. “They deserve equal treatment and equal rights in Equatorial Guinea.”

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