Challenges to the Implementation of the Maputo Protocol: The Case of Cameroon

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Addis Ababa University


This aim of this study is to explore the challenges faced by many African countries which have ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the Rights of Women in Africa, popularly known as the Maputo Protocol (MP). Its main focus is on Cameroon, as this country is one of the last to have ratified the Protocol in May 2008, and also one that witnessed a massive and long lasting protest. The main preoccupation throughout the research was to understand why Cameroonians are so radically opposed to the MP, in other words, the challenges faced by the government of Cameroon in its attempt to the implement this instrument. The challenges are identified as being centered around abortion and to a large extent the idea that the Protocol may be aimed at shattering the foundation of the Cameroonian society by weakening the family which constitutes its central pillar. Articles 5, 6, 7, 14, 17, 20 and 21of this instrument are at the center of controversy and tend to justify the protests which took place in Cameroon. To investigate these challenges, the researcher used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Appropriate instruments of data collection were designed and suitable sampling techniques for both methods were used in order to achieve the set objectives. The investigations conducted in Cameroon reveal the existence of a great divergence between the MP’s approach to gender and the feelings and perceptions of Cameroonians on the same issue. Africa’s culture in general and that of Cameroon in particular, is built on a clear separation and specialization of roles in the society for men and women. Africans in general still pay much attention to large families which represent one of the most visible signs of social success and achievement. This can be seen through the importance attached to marriage and parenthood, which are sacred and highly valued statuses as indicated by almost all female and male research participants. The provisions of the MP listed above seem to constitute in this regard, a threat to these African values and explain the determination of Cameroonians to oppose it. Nevertheless, the study concludes that the MP should not be discarded, but should rather be amended or improved upon in the sense of adapting it to the African socio-historical context, (home-grown) as articulated by African theoreticians and intellectuals, so as to facilitate its acceptance and subsequent implementation by member States



Gender Studies