ECOWAS Member States to hold a High-Level Panel on Women/Girls Empowerment

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A High-Level Panel of ECOWAS Member States on Women/Girls Empowerment in West Africa’s Extractive Industries Sector will be held in New York on Friday, 10 March, on the margins of the CSW67.

Jointly organised on the margins of the 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) by the ECOWAS Department of Human Development and Social Affairs and international NGOs OXFAM and WILDAF, the High-Level Panel of ECOWAS Member States will take place on Friday, 10 March 2023 at the Permanent Mission of the African Union to the United Nations in New York, USA. The Panel is part of a regional campaign dubbed “30% Extractive Sector Development Funds to strengthen women’s socio-economic empowerment and girls’ education”.

The theme for this High-Level Panel which Ministers and Experts in charge of Women Affairs and Oil and Mining in ECOWAS Member States are invited to attend is “Addressing the issues and challenges in funding socio-economic development programmes for women and girls through the extractive sector in West Africa, as a lever for the economic recovery of the region”. The objective of this Panel is to use the advocacy platform provided by the CSW67 Summit to communicate the priorities of the 30% Campaign to West African leaders and to urge them to make formal commitments to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The meeting will be attended by Ministers of Women Affairs and Mines of ECOWAS Member States, regional and local government officials, representatives of diplomatic missions in New York, members of civil society and women in the mining industry. The ECOWAS High Level Panel will be held in hybrid form under the leadership of the Ministers of Mines and Gender of some selected countries including Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Niger.

It should be recalled that West Africa has significant natural resource wealth in its subsoil. Most countries in the region have stated in their constitutions that “natural wealth and resources belong to the people, and that they are to be used to improve their living conditions”. The same legislation prohibits gender-based discrimination but is not clear on addressing gender-specific issues.

Sadly, in the mining sector, there are very few legal provisions in support of gender equality. The regulations governing Local Development Funds from the extractive sector do not include any specific provisions for gender mainstreaming.

It is against this backdrop that ECOWAS and its partners have initiated this campaign to use all strategies, including advocacy to Member States, regional and international institutions and decision-makers, to ensure that gender is properly mainstreamed in investments for the benefit of the people. The campaign aims at enhancing the understanding of mechanisms for the distribution of funds from the extractive sector, urging states to implement gender-responsive budgeting and to invest 30% of development funds from the extractive sector in women’s socio-economic development and girls’ education.

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