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ECOWAS celebrates women’s day with pomp, sober reflections.
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Joining the rest of the world to mark the International Women’s Day on March 8 2015, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will continue to work for more gender sensitivity in the region.

In all of its forty years of existence, ECOWAS has been in the front burner of the promotion of gender, the empowerment of women and the maximization of their potential for national and regional development.

This relentless promotion of gender affairs gave rise to the development of support programmes and projects whose fruits, the ECOWAS Commission and its sister institutions celebrated while marking the International Women’s Day with a visit to the National Hospital and the Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Abuja, Nigeria.

Other activities that marked the Day included brainstorming sessions on gender parity which came on the heels of the main lecture delivered by the erstwhile ECOWAS Commissioner for Administration and Finance Dr. Adaoha Okwuosa. There was also a presentation on work Life Balance Issues covering career, lifestyle, spiritual life, and the healthy symbiosis between the demands of work and matrimonial family obligation as well as children’s upbringing.

At the commemorative event which held at the auditorium of the ECOWAS Parliament, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow sued for the continuous highlighting of gender development issues. She noted that the Gender policy of ECOWAS draws strength from its foundation treaty, and that in recognition of the important role of women in regional transformation, ECOWAS Commission has since developed sustainable programmes on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Embeded in the programme are issues having to do with education and training of women and girls, gender and development training, development of a training manual on gender, Peace and Security, in collaboration with the Women, Peace and Security Network. Also mentioned was the draft training manual on gender and child protection Issues during complex emergencies.

Continuing, the Commissioner said gender and health programmes are now being used to support Women and Girls suffering from the Obstetric Fistula. Under this initiative, varied assistance is continuously being provided to women suffering from the condition, followed by psycho-social and financial support, among others.

Further disclosures were made to the effect that work is in progress in the area of capacity building on gender and election, gender and agriculture, gender mainstreaming in energy access, gender and trade, gender and migration as well as the establishment of Business Incubator for African Women Entrepreneurs (BIAWE) Project in the ECOWAS region which is being sponsored by the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for African Women. A networking and partnership for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls within the ECOWAS region is also being promoted.

The president of ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Maria Do Ceu Silva Montero,   stressed the need for women to be united and stay close to the men. “We need to be fighters. Always to fight and fight for this equality with men. It has already started with a group of women in a factory in the US. I am very happy for being a women and I think every woman here is proud to be a woman and a mother…Let us pledge rededication to our duties as mothers, wives and sisters” She added.

Following the encouraging remarks made by the ECOWAS Commissioner for micro economic policy Dr. Ibrahim Bocar Ba, the Secretary-General of the ECOWAS Parliament Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola said women are very important stakeholders in regional integration. ECOWAS, he maintained, believes in gender parity as against equality noting further that women should be well represented in the affairs of society, a recognition that informed gender inclusiveness in the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG) of the UN.

The ECOWAS Director of Gender Dr. Sintiki Ugbe gave a profuse vote of thanks to all who made the celebration possible. She urged women in the region to make more pledges towards advancing the cause of gender sensitivity generally.

The event which wound up with a dinner, also featured a display of documentation on gender issues, a rendition of songs by the ECOWAS choir.

This year’s theme for celebrating the International Women’s Day is: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality. It is in tandem with the ECOWAS gender policy.

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