The Pan-African Parliament (the “Parliament” or “PAP”) was established to act as a legislative branch of the AU and ensure representation and participation of the African people throughout the decision-making processes that occur at the regional level. Created by a protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, it consists of five parliamentarians – two of which must be women – from each state party (that has ratified the Protocol). It meets at least two times per year, where members discuss and debate issues throughout the region – with the aim of producing a form of continental democracy and greater integration throughout AU member states.
In general, the responsibilities of the Pan-African Parliament include (Article 3, Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament):
- Give a voice to the African peoples and the Diaspora
- Facilitate the effective implementation of the policies and objectives of the AU
- Promote the principles of human and peoples’ rights and democracy in Africa
- Encourage good governance, respect for the rule of law, transparency and accountability in Member States; familiarize the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora with the objectives and policies aimed at integrating the African Continent within the framework of the African Union
- Promote peace, security and stability
- Contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery
- Facilitate cooperation and development in Africa
- Strengthen continental solidarity, co-operation and development and build a sense of common destiny
- Facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities in Africa and their Parliamentary fora
- Encourage National and Regional Parliaments to ratify and integrate treaties adopted by the AU into their legal systems’
- Co-operate with National and Regional Parliaments and similar bodies within and outside Africa as well as civil society actors, community-based organizations and grassroots organizations
- Invite and encourage the full participation of African Diaspora as an important part of the African peoples in the building of the African Union in accordance with modalities approved by the Assembly
How does it help tackle violence against women?
Every year, the PAP hosts a Women’s Conference to serve as a platform for the development of policies related to women’s rights. During this time, participants discuss progress made towards the implementation of gender-focused programmes, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and other policies and activities undertaken by the AU. Previously, the Annual Conference has also focused on thematic issues related to:
- Maternal mortality
- Women’s social and economic empowerment
- Women, peace and security
- Political participation and other forms of decision-making
Established under Rule 85 of the PAP’s Rules of Procedure, the PAP also created the Women’s Caucus to provide oversight of the PAP’s work on women’s rights and gender equality. It actively promotes state ratification and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Women’s Rights in Africa (“Maputo Protocol”), which includes provisions on tackling gender-based violence.
In addition to the Annual Conference and work of the Women’s Caucus, the PAP also organises workshops and other meetings to focus on VAW-related issues that concern the region. For example, the PAP organised a two-day workshop with the United Nations Population Fund on the elimination of female genital mutilation – which resulted in the PAP’s overall commitment to ending FGM and several recommendations to the AU to ensure states move towards fulfilling this commitment.
To help accomplish its goals and objectives, the PAP has established Permanent Committees to focus on thematic areas of work – which includes the Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability (the ‘Committee’). The Committee’s mandate includes a mandate to consider issues relating to the promotion of gender equality and assist the parliament in overseeing the development of policies and activities within the AU to this effect. It consists of no more than 30 parliamentarians who meet during ordinary sessions of the PAP.