Although there is no mention of gender in the OAU Charter itself, the OAU has paid increasing attention to the position of women. More recently, there has been an attempt to mainstream a gender perspective across all fields of the OAU/AU's work, but it has paid particular attention to their rights in times of conflict, and their right of participation and role in development. The recent adoption of a Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa to the ACHPR, and gender being a specific principle of the Union as indicated by the Constitutive Act, are also to be noted. The rights of women seem to be something on which the OAU/AU has taken some concerted action.
However, as will be seen, while the attention is to be commended, its approach does seem to evidence a rather stereotypical presumption of the role of women in society. Similarly, while there is clear rhetoric of the need to support women and increase their participation and protection of their rights, particularly at the international level, less attention has been paid to the position of rural women.
The reasons for the OAU/AU paying attention to the position of women seem to come from various sources. Certainly, early on its work, the participation of the OAU in international conferences led it to adopt resolutions relating to the rights of women as a follow-up. In addition, the role of women in the African liberation struggle did not go unrecognised by the OAU.