Gender, Youth, Sports, CSO, Employment and Drug Control



The Directorate was established following the restructuring of the ECOWAS Commission in 2007 in line with the primary objective to reposition ECOWAS institutions as effective and efficient organs in promoting regional integration. The Directorate has the responsibility of implementing the following programmes of the Commission:

  • Gender & Child Development
  • Youth, Sports & Employment
  • Civil Society & Drug Control

Within the ECOWAS Vision 2020, the Directorate is situated under the following Strategic Frameworks:

  • Strategic Pillar G.3: Sustained Development and Cooperation in the Region
  • Strategic Objectives G.3.4: Provide Policy Direction for the Promotion of Human
  • Development and Security as an instrument of Poverty Reduction
  • Sub-Objectives G.3.4.2 Promote Gender Equality, Parity, Women and Youth Empowerment to Human and Drug Trafficking, Child Labor, and Humanitarian Initiatives


The mission of the Directorate is to contribute to the social, political and economic well-being and human-security of the region through the promotion of gender sensitive development, social inclusion, and participatory development.

Strategic Objective:

Promote Gender and Human Development as an instrument of Social, Cultural and Economic Integration. ACTIVITIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Specific Accomplishments of Directorate include:


The goal of the programme is to promote gender equality, parity and women empowerment in the West African region. The programme’s achievements include:

  • ECOWAS Gender and Migration Plan of Action, 2015
  • ECOWAS Gender and Trade Action Plan, 2015.
  • Report of the Implementation of the ECOWAS Gender Policy, 2015.
  • Draft Action Plan of the “Women, Peace and Security” component of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF)
  • Promotion of Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment through the establishment of Business Incubators for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE)
  • Developed partnership with relevant agencies for technical and financial support for ECOWAS Gender mainstreaming programme e.g. ECOWAS- Women for Africa Foundation MOU, signed by the ECOWAS President in March, 2013, and ECOWAS – United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) MOU signed in 2014.
  • Technical support provided to other Directorates in the Commission for Gender Mainstreaming, for example Human Resources, Trade, Agriculture, Humanitarian Affairs etc.


The goal of this programme is to promote the welfare and rights of children in the region. The following are the main results in this programme:

  • ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action, 2009.
  • ECOWAS Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labor, 2012.
  • Draft Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Child Protection System in ECOWAS Region, 2013.

The goal of this programme is to promote youth development and empowerment in the region. The programme contributes to the mandate of the ECOWAS Commission in ensuring that the full potential of youths are harnessed for the socio-economic development of the region through:

  • Adoption of the ECOWAS Labour and Employment Policy
  • ECOWAS Youth Employment Action Plan
  • Development of the Statutes and Operational Guidelines of the ECOWAS Youth Empowerment and Development Fund
  •   Inauguration of the Steering Committee of the ECOWAS Youth Empowerment and Development Fund


Sports occupy a special place in the social and economic life of the ECOWAS Community and have the immense potential to foster regional integration. The objective of this programme is to promote sports development as an instrument for peace, integration, and recreation in the region. In this respect, the programme accomplishments are as follows:

  • Adoption of ECOWAS Sports Policy and Strategic Action Plan
  • Adoption and Institutionalization of the West African Public Service Games (WAPSGA) as a Community Sport
  • Scientific Congress on sports development with the theme “Regional Integration through Recreation and Sports Tourism” held in 2012.
  • ECOWAS Commission assigned a permanent seat on the AU Sports Advisory Board.


The Directorate produced three policy and strategic documents to address the growing problem of Drug Abuse, Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crimes in West Africa, namely the Political Declaration (2008), the Regional Action Plan (2008) and its Operational Plan and Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (2009). The ECOWAS Regional Action Plan emphasizes the balanced approach to drug trafficking and drug abuse problems in the region. In fulfilment of the mandate outlined in the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Drugs, the following were achieved:

  • ECOWAS has a politically affirmed and strengthened commitment to shared responsibility in drug control through the adoption of a Political Declaration and Regional Action Plan to address drug trafficking and to prevent drug abuse in West Africa.
  • ECOWAS has mobilized financial and technical resources from the EU to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Drug Regional Action Plan over five years through the signing of the Financing Agreement between the ECOWAS Commission and the EU on the 22nd November, 2013.
  • ECOWAS, with the support of UNODC, the EU and other leading donorstit, have made important efforts towards implementing important parts of the Action Plan. As a result, Member States in the region have taken intelligence-based action to identify and act upon drug trafficking and other organized criminal activities going by the figures arrests and seizures.
  • The Directorate initiated actions to raise awareness on drug abuse among particularly vulnerable groups in the region, including the production ECOWAS Documentary to raise public awareness on the growing drug abuse problems in the region produced with the participation of Drug Demand Reduction Experts in ECOWAS Member States.
  • Following a philosophy of combining training with operational activities, between 23-29 July 2012, ECOWAS and INTERPOL conducted a 7 days joint initiative, starting with three days training in Lomé (Togo) followed by three days of operations from 26-28 July in Togo, Benin and Ghana, and a day of debriefing. The initiative, especially designed for law enforcement officers from various agencies responsible for drug investigations in the above mentioned countries, was funded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The operational activities led to the arrest of 74 traffickers and seizures of 7894,275 Kg quantities of different kind of drugs.
  • ECOWAS and INTERPOL Regional Bureau in 2013 implemented a training and operation on fake drugs for Benin, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo.
  • West African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) launched in June 24th -28th 2013, Abuja.


In recognition of the complementary role and contribution of civil society to the regional development and integration framework, ECOWAS supports CSO engagement in its regional integration agenda.  The following key activities to strengthen, deepen and develop the multi-dimensional contributions of CSOs to ECOWAS integration efforts were implemented:

  • ECOWAS Award of grants of about 1, 2000, 000 million Euros provided by the European Union Development Fund (9th EDF) to 17 Non-State Actors from ECOWAS Member states in 2010.
  • Provision of Annual Subvention to the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF).
  • Training Workshop to Strengthen Non-State Actors Capacity for Grant Management in West Africa held.


ECOWAS Commission an inter-governmental organization oversees a highly diverse region and has provided policy direction and implemented key programmes that have promoted human development as an instrument of Poverty Reduction in region.

ECOWAS Commission has also contributed to human development, provision of social infrastructure, and the mainstreaming of gender into all components of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Directorate has contributed to the achievement of the above stated goals, through the :

  • Development and promotion of the adoption and implementation of policies and action plans relating to human and drug trafficking, child labor, and other social initiatives.
  • Promotion of gender equality, women economic empowerment, and youth and sports development, and the
  • Promotion of the development of social infrastructure in agriculture, trade, health and education sectors as highlighted in all the sectoral programmes above.


Youth Development The Objectives of the programme are as follows: 

  • To promote youth development and empowerment in the region
  • To mobilize youth to contribute effectively to economic, social and cultural development and integration
  • Implementation of the ECOWAS Youth Policy and Strategic Plan of Action
  • Capacity building workshops on topical issues like – Entrepreneurship and Enterprise development, skills acquisition and training etc.
  • Mobilization of to participate regional socio-cultural activities like ECOWAS Peace Pageant, recreational sports activities.
Drug Control The overall objective of the ECOWAS’ drug program is to considerably reduce the incidence of drug trafficking, drug abuse and related organized crime on peace, security, economic and human development in ECOWAS Member States. The immediate objective (or purpose) of the drug programme is to gradually establish a sustained regional capacity to monitor, coordinate and harmonize drug policies in West Africa in line with the ECOWAS Political Declaration, Regional Action and Operational  Plans. In order to achieve this objective, four main results are envisaged for the duration of the Regional Action Plan.Improved ECOWAS drug advisory, monitoring and coordination capacityHarmonized data on drug abuse epidemiology and data collectionIdentification and diffusion of good regional practices on drug prevention and treatmentImproved regional law enforcement and judicial cooperation
Sports Development The Objectives of the programme are as follows: 

  • To promote sports as an instrument for peace,  integration, recreation and development
  • To promote, initiate and encourage sporting activities in the community.
  • To mobilize resources from partners and build the capacity  of member states in sports development
  • To reinforce cooperation in the field of youth and sports by fostering the exchange of best practices, training and the development of innovative actions at the Community level.
Child Development The Objectives of the programme are as follows: 

  • To facilitate the development, welfare and rights of children in the region.
  • To develop programmes that would promote the welfare and rights of children
  • To ensure Member States adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • To strengthen the capacities of Social Services providers and other child care agencies for the greater development, protection and care of children.
Civil Society Overall Objective: To support the participation CSOs and their respective constituencies in promoting regional integration issues through research, policy analysis, networking, lobby and advocacy.Specific Objectives:To support the establishment of regional CSO forums and thematic areas for the exchange of information, ideas and dissemination of good practices.To strengthen the role of WASCOF as an interface between ECOWAS and CSOs forums/thematic groups in the regionTo support networking, harmonization of interventions, and clear definitions of areas of specialization by national, trans-national and regional organizationsTo support CSOs capacity building for advocacy and resource mobilization
Gender Development The Objectives of Gender and Development Programme are as follows: 

  • To promote gender equality;
  • To support women empowerment and promote affirmative programmes to address gender imbalances;
  • To promote mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the work of ECOWAS at the organizational level and at the Members’ states level;
  • To support technical and social innovations that contributes to women empowerment and improved quality of life for ECOWAS women and men;
  • To support and promote the human rights of women and girls; and to foster constructive dialogue between women and men in the sub-region
Employment The Objectives of the programme are as follows: 

  • To promote and enhance job creation, appropriate skills and decent work particularly for youths in the region
  • To provide a conducive environment for job creation and employment particularly for youths in the region.
  • To develop the capacities and  skills of youth and empower them to be self-sufficient and live decent lives
Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreuners Empowerment (Biawe) General objective of Business Incubator:The business incubator seeks to provide capacity building, technical assistance, and financial support to emerging rural women entrepreneurs who face constraints that make it difficult to sustain their businesses. The overall goal of the ECOWAS BIAWE project is to provide an enabling environment, and needed support for women in rural communities to establish their businesses successfully, and increase the rate of sustainabilitySpecific Objectives of the Business Incubators: 

  • To strengthen the capacity of rural women to engage in their livelihood strategies
  • To provide business support services to rural women entrepreneurs
  • To increase value-added processing of traditional products
  • To provide business management skills; access to financial services and capacity building
  • To share knowledge on conformity to quality norms and standards
  • To create employment  through small business development and acceleration of growth
  • To mentor younger rural women entrepreneurs

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Member States