What are my rights?


Do you know what your rights are?

Do you really have the rights you are entitled to?

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Fifty-one out of fifty-four African countries have committed to ensuring women’s  and girls' rights as enshrined in a legal framework known as the Maputo Protocol.

While significant progress has been made, fifteen years after the Maputo Protocol was conceived, many women and girls across Africa still do not have these fundamental rights.

This has to change.

#RightByHer works to reduce the gap between rights and reality in four key rights areas.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

What are Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?

Health means a lot more than just the absence of disease. According to the World Health Organisation, it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
Sexual health is this well-being in relation to sexuality. It includes being able to have pleasurable, safe, and consensual sexual experiences and relationships, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

Reproductive health concerns the reproductive system and processes at all stages of life. It includes people being able to have children, but also having the freedom to decide if they want children, when they want to have them, and how many they would like to have.


Sexual and reproductive health cannot be achieved without access to certain fundamental rights such as:

  • Information about and access to safe, effective, and affordable methods of family planning and protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Access to health care services that enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth, and to have healthy babies.
  • Freedom from sexual violence, discrimination, and coercion.


Every woman has the right to:

DECIDE whether to have children, and the number and spacing of children.

CHOOSE any method of contraception.

ACCESS family planning services and education.

Her government has the responsibility to:

PROVIDE adequate and accessible health services and education to ALL women

STRENGTHEN health services for pregnant women and new mothers

AUTHORISE medical abortion in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother or foetus


More than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

One in five married African women have an unmet need for family planning.

In West and Central Africa, more than one in four girls are pregnant before the age of 18.

Gender-based Violence

Gender-based Violence

What is Gender-Based Violence Against Women (GVAW)?

Gender-based violence against women means any act of violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman, or violence that affects women much more often than it affects men.

This kind of violence is usually a consequence of unequal power relations between men and women, in the family, community, and under the law.

GVAW can take many different forms. It includes any act that could or does cause a woman physical, sexual, psychological, or economic harm, including threatening someone with such an act. It could be continuing a sexual act after the woman asked to stop, it could be humiliating someone with degrading comments, it could be depriving a woman from social contacts, from economic resources, or employment.


It happens in many different contexts, and is perpetrated by many different people. It could be in the family or in relationships, such as a man beating his wife or daughter, or rape in a dating context. It could be in the community, such as sexual harassment or abuse at work, university, or school. It could be violence by the state, such as systematic rape or sexual slavery committed by police, soldiers, or prison guards.


Every woman has the right to:

RESPECT for her dignity, her life, and the integrity and security of her person.

PROTECTION from all forms of violence, be it physical, sexual, psychological, or economic.

Her government has the responsibility to:

PROHIBIT all forms of violence against women, including disabled, elderly, and refugee women.

PREVENT, PUNISH, AND ERADICATE violence against women via legal, administrative, social, and economic measures

SUPPORT women victims of violence via accessible services for information, reparation, and rehabilitation.

PROTECT women and girls from abuse and sexual harassment in educational institutions and the workplace.


45.6% of women in Africa have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

A third of African countries have no legal provision on domestic violence.

Three in five African countries do not criminalise marital rape.



What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks our immune system, the body’s natural defence against illness. This means that if it is left untreated, HIV makes it gradually harder and harder for the body to fight off other infections and diseases.

AIDS, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is the name for a set of symptoms experienced by people at a very advanced stage of the HI virus, when it has destroyed the immune system. If left untreated, AIDS is fatal.

Not everyone who gets HIV develops AIDS. There is effective antiretroviral treatmentavailable which stops people with HIV developing AIDS, and allows them to live normal, long lives.

TORORO, UGANDA  - JULY 25: Head antenatal nurse Margie Harriet Egessa providing antenatal counseling and checkups for a group of pregnant women at Mukujju clinic. This clinic is supported by DSW. July 25, 2014 in Tororo, Uganda. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)..

You can get HIV by having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the HI virus. You can also get it through blood transfusions, or by sharing needles.

Pregnant women can transmit the virus to their unborn child, and HIV can be transmitted via breast milk. Antiretroviral treatment can reduce the risk dramatically if applied in time.


Every woman has the right to:

PROTECT herself and be protected against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV

KNOW her own health status and that of her partner

Her government has the responsibility to:

PROVIDE adequate, affordable, and accessible health services

INFORM AND EDUCATE all women and girls on sexual health, especially those in rural areas


Seven in ten young women in sub-Saharan Africa do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV.

AIDS-related illnesses are the second leading cause of death for African girls and women aged 15-24.

Three out of ten African countries lack legislation that guarantees non-discrimination on the basis of HIV.



What are Harmful Practices?

Harmful practices are those behaviours, attitudes, and practices which violate the fundamental rights of women and girls. At #RightByHer, we focus on:

Female genital mutilation (FGM): the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the genitals for non-medical reasons.

  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls before the age of 15.
  • There is never any health benefit to FGM. It has a severe long-term impact on physical and mental health.
  • Immediate complications can include severe bleeding and pain, fever, infections, shock, and death.
  • Long-term complications can include frequent urinary and vaginal infections; pain during sex, menstruation, and urination; increased risk of complications in childbirth and of newborn death; psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
harmful practices

Child, early and forced marriage: formal marriage or an informal union where one or both partners are under the age of 18.

  • Child marriage affects girls much more often than boys.
  • Girls who are married below the age of 18 are more likely to experience intimate partner violence. They are at a higher risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. They are much less likely to be in school.


Every woman has the right to:

PROTECTION from behaviour, attitudes, and practices which negatively affect their fundamental rights, such as the right to health, dignity, education, and physical integrity.

EQUAL RIGHTS and recognition as an equal partner in marriage.

RESPECT as a person and for the free development of her personality.

Her government has the responsibility to:

PROTECT women who are being subjected to harmful practices.

CREATE public awareness regarding harmful practices.

PROHIBIT all forms of female genital mutilation in order to eradicate them.

SUPPORT victims of harmful practices through health services, legal support, counselling, and vocational training.

ENSURE that no marriage takes place without the free consent of both parties and that no girl marries before the age of 18.


38 % of women aged 20-24 in sub-Saharan Africa were married before age 18.

Thirteen African countries do not prohibit FGM.

In 8 countries in Africa, over 80% of girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation.