Despite overall progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Goal 3 (promote gender equality), Goal 5 (reduce maternal mortality), and Goal 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases) significantly lag behind other goals, with women in Africa bearing the burden of this failure. Underlying this lack of progress is the failure to protect and promote women's reproductive rights. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (or, the African Women's Protocol) provides a strong, African framework for women's reproductive rights that goes beyond other binding international treaties in supporting and promoting reproductive rights. Only 29 out of 52 countries in Africa have signed and ratified the African Women's Protocol thus far, and there remain significant barriers to translating the Protocol into national legislation and implementing its provisions. If fully implemented and integrated into national legislation, the African Women's Protocol offers a significant tool to support women's reproductive rights in Africa, thereby supporting the attainment of MDGs 3, 5, and 6.
PLoS Medicine (2011) 8 (4): e1000429 [doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000429].