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F.5.a.i. Africa

Grassroots will drive North Africa women’s rights push, Oxford Analytica, 07/01/2020,

The year 2019 has seen women’s rights movements come to the fore across the Maghreb, a region where previous initiatives have been driven by Western political pressure and from the top down by predominantly authoritarian leaders. This paper explores the unprecedented bottom-up activist movements that have begun advancing the agenda of women’s rights across the region.

Harrison, lakeisha, Religion in the African Public Square: Examining the Role of Religion in African Women’s Reproductive Rights, Washington D.C., Howard University , 2019, pp. 175

This study examines of how religion (Christianity, Islam and indigenous religions) influences the laws and policies on African women’s reproductive rights. Using South Africa as a case study, this paper elaborates on the influence of religion on South African women’s reproductive rights and the African world in general.

Kalusen, Susanne, Abortion in Apartheid South Africa, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 327

Using interviews and a range of documentary sources, this book examines how the apartheid state sought to control women’s and girls’ bodies and reproductive choices, both through the enforcement of restrictive abortion laws and the promotion of a patriarchal Christian Afrikaner culture. It also explores the ways in which women and girls defied these restrictions.

For a comprehensive review of this book, please see Hepburn, Sacha (2018) ‘A History of Abortion in Apartheid South Africa’ in Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 44, issue 1, pp. 190-192.

Munyati, Bob, African women's sexual and reproductive health and rights: The revised Maputo Plan of Action pushes for upscaled delivery, Agenda, Vol. 32, issue 1, 2018, pp. 36-45

Starting from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action of 1994, the revised African Union (AU) Maputo Platform of Action (MPoA) 2016–2030 commits African leaders to guarantee women's universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The MPoA 2016–2030 addresses women's sexual and reproductive health throughout their entire life to improve the poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes on the continent. The MPoA 2016–2030 also aligns itself with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU Agenda 2063, both of which have made women's health a priority. This briefing reports on the findings of the policy review through a comparison of key themes/action strategies and an analysis of both weaknesses and gains.

Sguazzin, Antony, Report: South African state hospitals 'forcibly' sterilized women with HIV, Time, 25/02/2020,

Investigates the forced sterilization of South African women and highlights the Report of the South African Commission for Gender Equality prompted by the 2015 complaint by the non-profit Women’s Legal Center, which documented 48 cases of women who were allegedly forced or coerced into agreeing to the procedure while giving birth.

The Report of the Commission can be accessed here:

See also: Forced sterilisation in South Africa: They removed my uterus, BBC, 27 February 2020.

Tønnessen, Liv ; Al-Nagar, Samia, The Politicization of Abortion and Hippocratic Disobedience in Islamist Sudan, Health and Human Rights, Vol. 21, issue 2, 2019, pp. 7-19

This article explains how abortion is understood within Sudan’s Islamist state, where it is politicized through its association with illegal pregnancy. It also the silent disobedience of Sudanese doctors for the purpose of protecting women’s reproductive rights. While abortion is not discussed in the domestic political debate on women’s reproductive and maternal health, and is not on the agenda of the national women’s movement, it has become politicized in the implementation of the law. A number of bureaucratic barriers, in addition to a strong police presence outside maternity wards in public hospitals, make it difficult for unmarried women to access emergency care after complications of an illegal abortion. However, many doctors, honouring the Hippocratic oath, disobey state policy, and refrain from reporting such ‘crimes’ to the police, to protect unmarried and vulnerable women from prosecution.