Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg
Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti was on Thursday August 9 2018 charged with inciting public violence and declaring unofficial election results as fears grew about a government crackdown following the disputed July 30 election. The court appearance followed dramatic events in which Biti fled to Zambia, was denied asylum and was handed over to Zimbabwean security forces in defiance of a Zambian court order. UNHCR quickly expressed concern. A joint statement by the heads of missions in Zimbabwe of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia urgently called on Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee Biti’s safety and respect his rights.
A number of scholars have discussed the implication of the Civil Society Proclamation (CSP) in terms of realizing human rights recognized under the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). However, the quality of attention given to the direct implication of this proclamation on women’s rights organizations and on measures that are focused on gender equality is not significant.
This article argues that the CSP of Ethiopia is and has been unconstitutional and violates the rights of women to freedom of association that is recognized under the aspirations and provisions of the FDRE Constitution. It goes beyond the rhetoric and provides a practical overview of the myriad of challenges the women’s rights movement faced in its effort to tackle down gender inequality in the country.