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Senior Experts Validate ECOWAS Draft Gender and Elections Framework, Action Plan.
 6Senior experts have validated with some amendments, the ECOWAS Gender and Elections Strategic Framework and Action Plan at a two-Day meeting that ended on the 13th of December 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria.

By their review, validation and adoption of the draft report and regional action plan, ECOWAS is more surefooted on mainstreaming gender in all legal frameworks for elections as well as increasing the participation and representation of women in the electoral processes of the region.

Other objectives expected to be met with the adoption include, reducing the cultural and religious barriers and challenges faced by women as well as building their technical capacity to effectively participate in the electoral process.

The action plan also seeks to foster gender sensitive civic and voter education, the promotion of female candidature in elections, safety and security of women throughout the electoral cycle at all levels, the enhancement of the knowledge of female candidates in the use of a variety of media channels and their technical capacity to effectively engage in governance, including partnering with the media to promote female candidates.

Following exhaustive discussions and valuable inputs to the ten Strategic Pillars of the Draft Action Plan, the senior experts urged the ECOWAS Commission to develop a resource mobilisation strategy that will support the implementation of the Action Plan.

In this vein, they requested Member States’ Ministries of Gender and Women’s Affairs to lead the process of coordination and advocacy for the implementation of the Action Plan in collaboration with national stakeholders, including national Electoral Management Bodies and ECOWAS desks.4

They further recommended that a member-state specific commissioned baseline study on gender equality in the electoral process be undertaken while an assessment tool should be developed by ECOWAS for the commissioned study by all Member States.

According to the senior experts, Heads of States and Government of all Member states should be brought on board for an effective and coordinated implementation of the ECOWAS Gender and Election Strategic Framework and Action Plan. This is in addition to the organization of a national inter-ministerial consultative meeting on how to implement the Framework and Action Plan.

A solidarity message of the Nigerian Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, reinforcing the ECOWAS key strategic areas of intervention, was brought to the senior experts by her Special Assistant Madam Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia.


The Chair of the meeting Dr. Meima Sirleaf Karneh had in her closing remarks thanked delegates for their participation and finalising the ECOWAS Gender and Elections Strategic Framework as well as the Action Plan. She reiterated that the development of this document is crucial at this point where most countries in the region are preparing for elections.


In attendance were senior experts from Ministries responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs, Civil Society and technical partners. Prior to the meeting, senior experts reviewed the Framework and Action Plan. Written comments for integration into the draft document were also taken in.


Member States represented at the meeting included Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The report of the meeting which was organized by ECOWAS Commission, supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), would be adopted by ECOWAS Ministers of Women Affairs at their meeting proposed to hold in first quarter of 2017.

After the adoption of the strategic Framework and Action Plan at the highest level, Member States are expected to develop their respective National Plans of Action.

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