Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, 2004

In July 2004, the AU met for its Third Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the summit, the heads of state adopted the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, which affirmed the commitment of member states to the task of mainstreaming gender into the AU's approach to health, human rights, education, economic development, governance, and peace and security. This was the first time a continental organization took ownership of gender mainstreaming at the highest level, prioritizing issues such HIV/Aids and the recruitment of child soldiers.
In ratifying the Solemn Declaration, the AU agreed to:
- expand and promote the gender parity principle to all the AU organs, and not merely the Commission;
- ensure the participation and representation of women in peace processes, including the prevention and resolution of conflicts and post-conflict reconstruction;
- accelerate the implementation of gender-specific economic, social and legal policies in order to combat the HIV/Aids epidemic;
- launch a campaign to end the recruitment of child soldiers and the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls;
- ensure the active promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls;
- protect the property and inheritance rights of women;
- expand the education of women and girls, particularly in rural areas.

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, 2003
At the regional level, African NGOs have successfully lobbied and advocated for greater recognition of women's rights at the AU. As a result of their efforts, the Protocol was adopted at the Second Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003 and contains 32 articles relating to the protection of women's human rights in Africa. Included in this Protocol are specific protections for women in armed conflicts and for women's rights to peace and sustainable development, among others. The Protocol entered into force in 2005 after being ratified by 16 member states.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter), 1981
Adopted on 27 June 1981 and entered into force on 21 October 1986 ("African Human Rights Day"), this charter is unique because it covers economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights, thus differentiating it from the European and American Conventions on Human Rights, which follow a more traditional line. Not only does the African Charter articulate the rights afforded to individuals and peoples, but it also elaborates on measures to safeguard these rights. Some of the rights stipulated in the charter include: the rights of women; the right to national and international security; the right to development; the right to equality (before the law); and the right to non-discrimination.