To strengthen the Protocol, the AU adopted the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) in July 2004. The SDGEA reaffirms commitment to the principle of gender equality as enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as other existing commitments, principles, goals, and actions set out in the various regional, continental, and international instruments on human and women’s rights. Member States also committed themselves to continue to expand and accelerate efforts to promote gender equality at all levels. They also expressed their determination to build on the progress achieved thus far in addressing issues of major concern to the women of Africa. As an enforcement mechanism, the Declaration commits heads of state and governments to report annually on the progress they have made to support the empowerment of women and promote gender equality both within government and civil society. The Solemn Declaration provides a concrete mechanism to harmonize reporting with the Protocol and includes eleven articles (11) on reporting. For example, it makes provisions for the inclusion of women in peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction; and the prohibition of the abuse of women as wives and “sex slaves”. More broadly it calls for sensitization about gender-based violence.
The Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa calls for member states’ continual action toward achieving gender equality and reinforcing their commitment to international and regional women’s rights instruments. In addition to calling for wider ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, it also addresses state responsibility for tackling violence against women and gender-based discrimination. To achieve gender equality, the SDGEA is subdivided into 6 thematic areas of action: Governance; Peace and Security; Human Rights; Health; Education; Economic Empowerment. Each of these areas of action is guided by international and regional human rights instruments that have been supported or adopted by the AU.