The realization, promotion and protection of human rights are processes that have received both negative and positive reactions globally. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly paved the way for the creation of similar instruments nationally, sub-regionally and regionally. These instruments are specific to issues of human rights in the particular states, sub-regions and regions in which they are adopted. Africa, Europe and America have established regional systems and adopted instruments as well as mechanisms to cater for the needs of their specific regions.
Unlike general human rights, women‟s rights were not a priority and so their development began as recently as the 1980s.
In Africa, the progress of the rights of women was majorly influenced by the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against women, an international instrument adopted in 1979/81. Followed by its Protocol, this instrument specifically addressed the rights of women globally. Consequently, instruments such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol on the Rights of Women, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and other mechanisms which include Commissions and Courts were established to address the rights of women in Africa.
This study highlights the composition or make up of the African human rights system and its access to women. The central problem in this study is the question “Why women have not been able to access the system despite the prevalent cases of violation of their rights”. This question is emphasized by the fact that so far, no women have take any cases alleging violation of their rights to the African Commission of Human and Peoples‟ Rights.
The study also critically analyses the obstacles and challenges that hinder women from accessing the system and discusses how these factors eventually limit the prevalence of women‟s rights. The study concludes by suggesting possible remedies and reforms both legal and beyond that can be enforced to boost the African human rights system to ensure that women freely enjoy and exercise the rights to which they are entitled.