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Press Statement: ECOWAS Human Rights Day

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission wishes to congratulate the entire Community citizens on the occasion of the maiden celebration of the ECOWAS Human Rights Day. This celebration places a particular focus on the promotion and protection of women’s rights in all its ramifications as its main theme. The theme is further extended to other sub-themes such as Women’s Right in Political governance and Participation; Women’s right in economy, empowerment and Development, Women’s rights in Mediation, Peace and Security; and Youth and young women’s rights.

The ECOWAS Commission has noted with deep concern that, despite the ratification of numerous regional and international human rights instruments by Member States, aiming to promote the rights of women, significant discrimination against women continues unabated in the region. The Commission further noted that these situations do not only violate the principle of equal rights and respect for human dignity, but also constitute an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their countries, thereby hindering the realization of an integrated, prosperous and developed ECOWAS region.

The ECOWAS Commission therefore calls on the respective National Human Rights Institutions and authorities of the government which serve as Duty bearer of promoting and protecting human rights for benefit of the right holders (the citizens), to take practical measures in the implementation of relevant provisions of Conventions, Protocols and International legal framework aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights.

The importance of women’s rights in the promotion of economic development cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore necessary for Member States to take steps to promote women’s rights and ability to have access to participate in the economic endeavors of their countries. To this ends, their ability to obtain credit and own lands and benefit from relevant inheritance laws should be facilitated to enable women to be economically empowered.

As Member States across the region commemorate this day, the ECOWAS Commission would like to express its profound gratitude to the Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of States and Government, H.E. Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Member States’ government for their consistency in providing support and well thought out policies aimed at advancing the promotion and protection of human rights for the benefit of the ordinary Community citizens. The Commission wishes all Community citizens Happy ECOWAS Human Rights Day.

Done in Abuja, this 16th Day of January, 2017

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