African Women's Day: the Platform for ESCR in Africa launches an annual campaign on the right to social protection

July 31, 2020 - Press release

African Women's Day: The Platform for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa launches an annual campaign on the right to social protection

On the occasion of African Women's Day[1] celebrated on July 31, the Platform for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa (PDESC) is launching its annual campaign on the right to social protection.

The COVID-19 pandemic that the world is facing since late 2019 has had significant socio-economic consequences, especially for women. In particular, it has revealed the weakness of social protection systems in most African States.

In Africa, inequalities in the enjoyment of the right to social protection[2], between people working in the formal and informal sectors[3], were accentuated from the first months of the pandemic. The necessary measures taken by States to prevent the spread and fight against the pandemic, such as physical distancing, confinement and wearing a mask have heavily impacted workers, especially those in the informal sector which accounts for around 86 % of the total employment in Africa.[4] While the various temporary emergency support measures taken by African States to assist the most vulnerable during this health crisis are laudable, they remain largely insufficient and often poorly coordinated.

This health crisis has also exacerbated socio-economic inequalities between women and men, as it is women who lose their sources of income the most, especially in rural areas. There is also an increase in domestic work for many women.

The health crisis we are experiencing must be an opportunity for a fresh start, by improving and / or establishing sustainable social security systems accessible to all, including women and the most vulnerable groups. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Platform has therefore decided to focus its activities on the right to social protection for the next 12 months. By launching this campaign, the Platform aims to contribute to the improvement of the right to social protection in Africa for all, in particular for women.

This campaign will include various activities including the publication of a report and recommendations on existing social protection systems in the countries of platform members; advocacy activities asking States to  develop and / or improve their social protection systems; as well as the consultation and sensitization of women on their right to social protection.

On the occasion of African Women's Day, the Platform calls upon all African States to:

  • Accelerate and perpetuate the structural reform processes initiated in order to guarantee the right to social protection for all, including that of African women;
  • Associate all stakeholders and social partners, including women’s rights organisations, in the discussions and measures taken to improve social protection systems;
  • Take into account cases of force majeure, such as that presented by the occurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic or other disasters in the definition of policies and programs of social protection systems. 


Contact: Human Dignity, association coordinating the Platform:

Created in March 2017 by Human Dignity, the Platform for ESCR in Africa is the first coalition of civil society organizations committed to the promotion and defense of economic, social and cultural rights in Africa. On July 29, 2020, Platform members renewed their commitment by adopting a Charter and internal regulations.

More information on the platform:


Members of the Platform

  1. Alerte Congolaise pour l'Environnement et les Droits Humains (ACEDH) - RDC
  2. Association des Parents d'Élèves des Écoles Catholiques - RDC
  3. Association mauritanienne des droits de l’Homme - Mauritanie
  4. Coalition pour l'Éducation Pour Tous – BAFASHEBIGE - Burundi
  5. Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo (CACIT) - Togo
  6. Human Dignity – organisation fondatrice et coordinatrice de la plateforme
  7. Mouvement Populaire pour la Santé au Gabon (MPS Gabon) - Gabon
  8. Réseau Progrès Et Développement Humanitaire du Niger (REPRODEVH) - Niger
  9. Réseau Ivoirien pour la Défense des Droits de l'Enfant et de la Femme (RIDDEF) – Côte d’Ivoire
  10. Société Internationale pour les Droits de l'Homme/ Section Sénégal (SIDH) - Sénégal
  11. Syndicat national des agents de la formation et de l’éducation du Niger (SYNAFEN) - Niger
  12. Union des Personnes Handicapées du Burundi - Burundi


[1] This day is celebrated on July 31 to commemorate the first Pan-African Women's Conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on July 31, 1962. It was officially consecrated on the occasion of the first congress of the Pan-African Women's Organization held in Dakar, Senegal, on July 31, 1974. Significant progress should be underlined such as the ratification by 42 out of 55 AU Member States of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on Rights of Women in Africa, adopted in 2003 and entered into force on 25 November 2005.

[2]  Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted on December 16, 1966 by the UN General Assembly and ratified by 49 African States out of 55 defines the right to social protection as the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance. The 6 states which have not ratified it yet are Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, Mozambique, Eswatini and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

This definition is supplemented by the General Comment 19 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in these terms “The right to social security encompasses the right to access and maintain benefits, whether in cash or in kind, without discrimination in order to secure protection, inter alia, from (a) lack of work-related income caused by sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, old age, or death of a family member; (b) unaffordable access to health care; (c) insufficient family support, particularly for children and adult dependents.” 

[3] The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines informal employment as those forms of employment which are not de facto or de jure subject to national labor laws and the payment of tax, nor entitled to social protection or other employment benefits. 

[4] See ILO, World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2019, page 28 at