As part of the continued celebrations to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Maputo Protocol, STEWARDWOMEN on behalf of the Coalition for the Ratification of the Maputo Protocol in South Sudan (CCORPS) organized a reflection and awareness creation session for stakeholders. STEWARDWOMEN is the lead agency of a national coalition (CCORPS) of over 50 Civil Society Organisations that are advocating for the ratification of the Maputo Protocol in South Sudan with the support of AmplifyChange - a multi-donor challenge fund that supports civil society to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. The coalition was formed against the back drop of the long awaited approval of the protocol by the South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly on 16th October 2017, albeit with reservations to Articles 6 and 14 with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, yet to assent to the document.
The meeting which was held from 16th – 17th August 2018 in Juba, South Sudan was attended by members of the coalition, government officials, Equality Now based in Kenya and Akina Mama wa Afrika based in Uganda, sister organizations under the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) which STEWARDWOMEN is also a member of. Over the last 15 years, SOAWR has spearheaded the campaign for the ratification, popularization, domestication and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The meeting generated concrete proposals for accelerating the ratification, popularization and effective implementation of the Protocol with one of the key asks being that the South Sudan President ratifies the Protocol and deposits the instruments with the African Union. The meeting also aimed at strengthening the activities of the coalition and identification of key priority areas to enhance effective implementation.
While approving the protocol, South Sudan’s parliamentary committee for Gender, Child and Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, acknowledged that the Protocol was important in the fight against gender inequality in the war-torn country. Despite approving the protocol, the committee had some reservations such as on Article 6 which discourages polygamous marriages and Article 14 which guarantees the sexual and reproductive health rights of women. The convening was therefore a timely intervention that saw regional CSOs (Equality Now and Akina Mama wa Afrika) share Kenya and Uganda’s journey to ratification, popularization, and effective implementation of the Maputo Protocol in a bid to inform a collective advocacy strategy to accelerate the full realization of the Maputo Protocol in South Sudan. An additional outcome was increased knowledge by coalition members of the Maputo Protocol and how they relate to other key instruments on women’s rights such as The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and UN Resolution 1325 which South Sudan has already ratified.