Protocol watch

São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol) on the 1st of February 2010 and ratified nine years later on the 18th of April 2019. São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It became independent in 1975; however, it was only in late 1980s that the country’s democratic reforms were enacted. São Tomé and Príncipe was once a leading cocoa producer, but decreases in the production left the country heavily dependent on foreign aid. Although the constitution gives equal rights to women and men in politics, access to education, business and governments, women still encounter a widespread societal discrimination. Domestic violence and rape are among the various forms of violence against women.  Many women are reluctant to take legal action because traditional customs prohibits them from reporting domestic violence outside the family.


The authorities approved the National Strategy on Gender-Based Violence, which includes two laws to punish the aggressor and to protect victims and set up a gender-based violence prevention and care network.


São Tomé and Príncipe adopted the 2017-2021 National Development Plan, based on the Vision ‘São Tomé and Príncipe 2030: The country we want to build’. The essential objective of this vision is to transform the country so that “the São Toméans live decently in a stable, egalitarian country…in the process of modernisation and offering quality services at the regional level and at the global level, without any form of discrimination against women’, through the fulfilment of nine aspirations”, including (ii) equitable and sustainable economic growth, (v) adequate infrastructures for promoting development & (vii) decent jobs….The approach to the Sao Tome economy is based on the principle of gender equity and the transformation of traditional roles that produce inequality, in order to promote women for their full participation in the progress economic”. 


The country adopted an Action Plan to Accelerate Family Planning for 2018–2021 and increased the supply of free contraceptives and services in the country’s health centres. 


The country acceded to several regional instruments, namely: the Maputo Protocol and the African Youth Charter.


São Tomé and Príncipe prohibited the dismissal of pregnant workers, increased the duration of paid maternity leave to at least 14 weeks and lifted restrictions on women’s ability to work at night, in mining and in jobs deemed dangerous.