The African Commission on Human and People's Rights and the woman question
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This paper proposes that in developing jurisprudence on women's rights, the African Commission will need to ask the woman question particularly the African woman question. The woman question requires a judicial or quasi-judicial body to always put woman at the centre of any decision with a view to addressing the historically disadvantaged position of women in society. Asking the African woman question means examining how the peculiar experiences of African women have been ignored by laws rooted in patriarchy across the region. Although the Commission has handled few cases directly dealing with women's rights, the paper suggests that the Commission can draw inspiration from decisions of other regional and international human rights bodies such as the European Court on Human Rights and the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) on how to ask the woman question. The paper recommends that in line with feminist reasoning there is a need for the African Commission to develop a consistent gender-sensitive approach in dealing with cases that may have implications for women. In essence the African Commission must ask the African woman question when dealing with cases on the enjoyment of women's fundamental rights.