Gabon is working to foster more equality between men and women. Three bills are being presented to the parliament to strengthen gender equality. Prime minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda says the bills will fight against “violence” and “discrimination.”
One of the texts introduces divorce by mutual consent. And adultery, committed by the man or the woman, will be a reason for separation for both spouses. Before now, that could only be invoked by the man before a judge.
Today, a Gabonese woman is also obliged by law to “obey” her husband. The planned changes will put an end to this, the trailblazing female head of government assured AFP in an interview.
“it was time to strengthen this protection for women by progressively eliminating the discrimination and violence against them,” Ms Ossouka Raponda said.
Three bills were adopted on Tuesday by the council of ministers, one on “the elimination of violence against women”, the other two aiming to amend the criminal code and the civil code, which still enshrines the pre-eminence of the man in the couple by making the husband the sole head of the family.
The bills have yet to be voted on by the national assembly and senate, but the party of president Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has ruled Gabon since his first election in 2009 when he took over from his late father Omar bongo’s long reign, largely dominates both houses.
“today, the husband is the head of the family, the wife must obey the husband and it is the husband who has the choice of residence” for the family, explains Ms Ossouka Raponda. Thanks to the new bills, the woman will share with the man the role of head of the family, she promises.
Any act of domestic violence against a spouse could also lead to divorce. “we want to protect the family as a whole,” the prime minister said.
The draft amendment to the penal code extends the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy to some extent, although it remains highly conditional. “it is not yet the right time” to liberalize it, Ms Ossouka Raponda said.
For an abortion, the state of distress of the woman will no longer need to be “serious” and the requirement of a doctor’s opinion to establish this will be removed.
These reforms are already triggering heated debates on social networks. In 2020, the decriminalization of homosexuality had led to a strong protest movement in a large part of public opinion.
In a recent report published by the world bank “women, business and law 2021”, Gabon, a small central African country, was ranked 41st out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in terms of promoting women’s rights.
Rwanda Leads Way In Gender Equality
Rwandan government has been hailed for leading way in gender parity.
A latest report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union dubbed ‘women in parliament’ (IPU) says Rwanda remains the world’s leading country with the most number of women in government positions. The analysis shows Rwanda was the only African country in this year’s top ten leading countries with women in politics.
Besides the 61% of the country’s parliamentary seats being occupied by women, the report also ranked Rwanda as the sixth country with women holding 50 %or more ministerial positions.
The report’s authors have said, women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030, citing that achieving gender parity in political life is far off, with the current data.
Besides Rwanda, there are only two parliaments where women account for above 50% of the seats. They include Cuba and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), occupying the second and third spots respectively.
For the first time, however, the global average of women in parliament reached a record-high 25.5%, an increase of 0.6% from the previous edition.
“Progress is being made, but parliaments must be more open to women. They should be gender-sensitive and transform their functioning and structures to facilitate work-life balance for women and men,” the IPU secretary-general, Martin Chungong, said.
The report said, at the current pace, it will take another 50years before gender parity is achieved in parliaments worldwide.
Ethiopia Says UN Role In Nile Dam Row ‘Unhelpful’
Ethiopia says United Nations role in Nile Dam row is unhelpful. The huge dam known as the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a point of contention for a decade between Addis Ababa and downstream nations Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia says the project is essential to its development and has started filling it. But the other two countries fear it could restrict their citizens’ water access.
Ethiopia has described as “unhelpful” the intervention of the U.N. in the long-running dispute over the Nile River mega-dam.
The county’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that it was “regrettable to witness that the progress of negotiations has been dragged and politicized”. Ethiopia said on Tuesday that the African Union-led process was important in addressing the concerns of the three concerns and that it was committed to seeing the process to a successful conclusion.
The statement added “Ethiopia has made its position clear time and time again that this is unproductive and bringing the subject matter to the United Nations security council was and is unhelpful and far from the mandate of the council.
EU To Train Mozambique Military Forces
The European Union (EU) has approved a military training mission in Mozambique to support armed forces there to protect the civilian population. Nearly a million persons have fled their homes amid jihadist violence there.
The EU mission says it aims to train and support Mozambique military in restoring security to northern Cabo Delgado which has been plagued by extreme violence amid jihadist attacks since 2017.
The mission, initially set to last for two years, will also involve “military training in operational preparation, specialized training in counter-terrorism, and training and education in the protection of civilians.
Over the last three years, more than twenty-eight hundred persons have died in the violence which has forced about 900,000 others from their homes.
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