In October 2019, Rumbidzai Elizabeth Chidoori and Funeka Manzi from the Foundation for Human Rights attended the NGO Forum and the 65th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) in the Gambia, which remains a critical and relevant advocacy space for civil society organizations (CSOs). The ACHPR is a key regional human rights mechanism providing an avenue for human rights defenders and those who have experienced violations to seek justice on a continent in the instances when domestic mechanisms become ineffective. The NGO Forum serves as a platform for CSOs to influence decision-makers at the regional level, and to ensure that fundamental human rights are mainstreamed throughout the decision-making process.
As part of the engagement with the ACHPR, the FHR delegation participated in the selected panel discussions that focused on the protection and promotion of women’s rights and gender equality in African countries. A number of issues were debated by the panels including the progressive reforms i.e., the legalizing of safe abortions in certain circumstances in Kenya; the commitment towards the development and implementation of National Action Plans on Women Peace and Security (UN Security Council Resolution 1325) in several countries; and the implementation of international and regional instruments aimed at achieving gender equality and eliminating gender-based violence including the Maputo Protocol, the Beijing Platform for Action and The Guidelines on Combating Sexual Violence and its Consequences in Africa.
The NGO Forum and the Session of the African Commission was also a great platform to discuss a number of human rights challenges faced by the African countries including an increase in refugees and internally displaced persons and the associate higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence for women and girls.
While in the Gambia, the FHR hosted a side event jointly with the partners, and launched the Report on South Africa Provincial Consultations on Women, Peace and Security: Towards the development of a National Action Plan’. The participants to the side event had an opportunity to share reflections on the journey towards developing a consultative National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security and to strengthen collaboration with other like-minded organizations.
Many of the FHR’s partners from South Africa specifically expressed that they were excited and happy to see the FHR engaging and participating on this critical platform and stressed the value of continuing to build the capacity of the African Commission and building solidarity within the African human rights community.