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A series of recommendations to ensure Gender equity and equality in ECOWAS member States
HE Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice president of Côte d’Ivoire

 

( Abidjan, 14 February 2017)

The Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to take ownership of the roadmap for the implementation of the Supplementary Act on equal rights for men and women for sustainable development in the Community.

This was one of the decisions of the periodic meeting of Ministers for Women and Gender Affairs of ECOWAS Member States held on Friday 10 February 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Following the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission and the Council of Ministers have been asked to take the necessary steps to enable the Minister in charge of Women and Gender Affairs from the country chairing the regional organisation to present a report on gender issues in the ECOWAS region, at ordinary summits of West African leaders.

In that regard, the Commission was encouraged to develop a system to annually review progress, obstacles and challenges to gender equality in Member States.

The ministers also appealed to regional leaders to reiterate their instructions on the need to step up efforts to create and maintain an environment that could facilitate the actualisation of gender equity and equality in Member States.

Another decision of the meeting was the unanimous adoption of a Declaration in honour of Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia and current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

In the Declaration, participants paid glowing tribute to her in her three-fold capacity as first African woman Head of State, Nobel Peace Prize winner and current Chair of the regional organisation.

Closing the meeting, the Ivoirian Minister for Women, Child Protection and Solidarity, Prof Mariatou Koné, expressed the hope that these recommendations will be validated by the Council of Ministers and subsequently adopted by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

Mrs Koné, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Liberian Minister for Gender and Development, whose country currently chairs ECOWAS, welcomed the recommendations and thanked participants for the quality and relevance of their contributions.

The meeting considered a series of documents whose implementation would contribute to the actualisation of ECOWAS Vision 2020, through the implementation of programmes that would directly impact the living conditions of populations in the region.

These documents included the roadmap for the implementation of the Supplementary Act on equal rights for women and men for sustainable development in the Community.

The Regional Action Plan on the fight against obstetric fistula in West Africa and the ECOWAS strategic framework for Gender and Elections alongside its Action Plan were also considered.

The meeting equally reviewed the 2017-2020 Action Plan for the women, peace and security component of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, on the theme : «ECOWAS Member States’ priorities within the context of the implementation of the Supplementary Act on equal rights for Women and Men in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063».

Earlier at the opening of the meeting, the Ivorian Head of State Alassane Ouattara, represented by his Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan, underscored the importance of the actions of Ministers for Women and Gender Affairs of ECOWAS Member States. He noted that these actions were part of measures aimed at promoting good governance and fighting against poverty, and would ensure the consolidation of cohesion, peace and stability in West Africa.

For her part, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr Fatimata Dia Sow, representing the Commission President Marcel de Souza, recalled the initiatives already taken by the regional organisation to review the items on the agenda of this meeting. She indicated that special attention would be given to the recommendations made by participants.

At the opening of the meeting, the representatives of UN Women, Mrs Diana Ofwona and the Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Idrissa Ouédraogo, urged ECOWAS Member States to rigorously implement and enforce laws to ensure the development of young girls and women.

They would also like to count on the commitment of Ministers present in Abidjan to create a prosperous Africa.

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