Strengthening the Legal Environment for the Protection of Women’s Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Dakar, Senegal, 16 February, 2023: The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project funded by the, World Bank funded in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, in collaboration with the Center for African Family Studies in Population and Health and Sustainable Development (CEFA-PSD), is organising a regional experience-sharing workshop for the SWEDD project’s legal platform at the Radisson Hotel in Dakar, Senegal, from 21- 24 February 2023.

The SWEDD project seeks to accelerate the demographic transition and to harness the demographic dividend, has established a legal sub-component to support the creation of an enabling environment for the promotion and protection of women’s rights to health, education, economic empowerment and access to entrepreneurial activities. This sub-component is implemented at the national and regional levels by a team of legal experts, with technical support from the World Bank and UNFPA legal and gender experts.

The creation of the legal platform is an important step for the Project in supporting the implementation of the legal component towards strengthening skills in the promotion and protection of women’s rights, improve law enforcement and the treatment of cases of violation of women’s rights to health, education and economic empowerment of women and facilitate access to entrepreneurial activities.

In addition to national lawyers, the workshop also brings together lawyers from African organisations like the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the African Union (AU).

The regional platform has been meeting online once a month since its inception in 2020 to share experiences and challenges faced by country legal teams during the process of legal reform or legal literacy.   This first face-to-face meeting of the regional platform of SWEDD lawyers will (1) take stock of the activities implemented to date (2) stimulate exchanges and sharing of experiences between members of the platform and (3) finalize the integration of pan-African institutions, including the African Union and ECCAS, into the regional platform.

The meeting will also allow the exchange of good practices in terms of disseminating existing legislations to vulnerable communities; consulting women and girls and social organizations during the drafting of a legal text; and the role of paralegals in helping GBV victims.

About the SWEDD project

Launched in November 2015 with financial support from the World Bank, technical support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the West African Health Organization (WAHO), and through the strategic partnership with the African Union, the SWEDD project globally aims to accelerate the demographic transition, trigger the demographic dividend and reduce gender inequalities in the Sahel region and beyond.  The SWEDD initiative has quickly become a showcase of remarkable achievements in deploying innovative local solutions supported by global best practices and international partnerships to leapfrog development on the continent while addressing complex societal challenges. Preparations for the expansion of the project are currently underway to include new strategic partners (ECCAS, ECOWAS) and to expand the target population for project interventions.

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