Following the validation meeting of the draft shadow report on the implementation status on the article 14 of the Maputo protocol convened by Save Generations Organization and Réseau des Femmes Oeuvrant pour le Développement, it has been indicated that cultural norms and beliefs are among existing barriers on access to information and services on sexual reproductive health and rights among girls and women.
This was presented during a validation meeting of the shadow report on article 14 of the Maputo protocol that took place on 16th-August-2022 where Government ministries, agencies, CSOs, religious leaders, school leaders and other stakeholders participated.
This report highlights the status of the implementation of the protocol to the African charter on Human and people’s Rights on the rights of Women in Africa known as the Maputo protocol.
The report acknowledges achievements and interventions done by the Government of Rwanda and the existing challenges and what is needed to overcome the mentioned challenges.
The protocol to the African charter on Human and people’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa known as the Maputo protocol was signed in 2003 in Mozambique, Rwanda signed the agreement in 2004. After holding on to implement article 14-part c of the protocol, Rwanda agreed to implement the same part c in 2012.
This protocol has a uniqueness of talking about the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights of women and girls in Africa basing on the African context and the life Africans live in.
According to article 26 of the protocol to the African charter on Human and people’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa known as the Maputo protocol, a country that signed this protocol has to provide a periodic showing the status of the implementation of the protocol, showing achievements, remaining targets and challenges.
Local Civil Society Organizations basing on their mandates also had an opportunity to produce shadow or alternative reports on how the government is implementing the protocol.
Among other articles, this shadow report produced by Save Generations Organization and Reseau des femmes focused on article 14 which is about Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights of girls and women.
This article stipulates rights about Women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health including: the right to control their fertility, the right to decide the number of children and the spacing of children, the right to choose any method of contraception, and the right to have family planning education.
Under Article 14 (2) (c) of the Maputo Protocol, States Parties are called upon to take all appropriate measures to “protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus”.
The Maputo Protocol is the very first treaty to recognize abortion, under certain conditions, as women’s human right which they should enjoy without restriction or fear of being prosecuted.
In addition, there is protection and care about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) including protection and care of people with HIV.
During the preparation of this report, Save Generations Organization and Reseau des femmes clarified that this shadow report recognizes the achievements that the government of Rwanda has done, track and show the progress of addressing the previous and current recommendations all aiming at having provision and access of SRHR information and services to girls and women.
This shadow report was produced after a rapid assessment which involved parents, adolescent girls, teachers and school leaders, health service providers, religious leaders and public servants form different local and central government institutions in 8 districts of Rwanda including Gasabo, Kamonyi, Muhanga, Musanze, Rwamagana, Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Burera.
This shadow report shows some challenges that still hinder the access of accurate information and appropriate SRHR services by girls and women including cultural social norms and beliefs and negative community mindset and perception on SRHR.
There are also cases where adolescents under age are denied family planning services without their parents’ or guardian consent while these adolescents get unwanted pregnancies resulted by not accessing these services. This results to using unhealthy ways of abortion which puts their lives at risk sometimes leading to death.
The Executive Director of Save Generations Organization, Mrs Yvette NYINAWUMUNTU acknowledged the initiatives and interventions done by the Government of Rwanda in line with increasing access Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights information and services to girls and women.
‘’There are still gaps but much has been done, the current situation is promising and provides hope that the existing gaps will also be addressed in collaboration with other responsible partners,’’ she said.
The Member of parliament who was the guest speaker in this validation meeting Annoncee MANIRARORA thanked Save Generations Organization, Reseau des femmes and their partners for coming up with this report as Civil Society Organizations and promised advocacy about the challenges highlighted to the parliament.
‘’We will advocate for the challenges and recommendations that were presented to other parliamentarians, yes, the shadow report will be submitted but as we are can also be finding solutions to the recommendations provided,’’ she said.
This meeting was attended by different institutions including line ministries and other government agencies, Civil Society Organizations, religious leaders, youth center coordinators, health service providers and other stakeholders.