ECOWAS strengthens peace-building machinery with strong gender representation and inclusion

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ecowas commission

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has strengthened its peace-building machinery with a strong gender representation and inclusion, officials have said.

At a two-day sensitization and orientation workshop held in the Ghanaian capital from Monday to Tuesday for the reconstituted ECOWAS Council of the Wise (CoW), a peace-building and conflict mitigation advisory body of the sub-regional bloc, the ECOWAS Commission revealed that for the first time, each country was presenting a female as one of its two nominees.

“The composition of the reconstituted CoW reflects the desired gender balance and inclusivity that is needed for the participatory political process and sustainable peace in our region today,” said Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the ECOWAS Commission President in his message to the nominees of the council at the two-day workshop.

He said the composition was also in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, “which promotes the inclusion of women in peace and security matters.”

“It is in this spirit that we spelled out as one of the criteria in the call for nominations to your countries, one man, and one woman! I am happy to note that these criteria were respected by member states, such that we have a good representation of both genders in our workshop today,” added the president.

Out of the 30 members representing the 15 ECOWAS member states at the workshop for nominees on the advisory body, 15 of them were females.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was elected to chair the advisory body and a former Guinean minister and former Executive Secretary of the Mano River Union Saran Daraba Kaba, a female was elected as his deputy in line with the gender balance ECOWAS seeks to achieve at that level.

“This is a very welcome development, I think ECOWAS has taken an excellent initiative, and it is actually in line with the global movement, that talks about inclusivity and diversity,” said Salamatu Suleiman, a former Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission, who, together with Jonathan represents Nigeria on the council.

She described gender balance as a necessary tool that brings different elements to a board or a council to ensure qualitative deliberations and progressive decisions.

“Women inclusion has always been known to be key in issues of peace and security because they are the mothers, they are the wives, they are the sisters and they are the ones that have their ears to the ground when it comes to issues relating to peace and security,” the Nigerian representative told Xinhua Tuesday.

“I think ECOWAS has done well and the heads of state’s approval of these nominations is an excellent decision and I believe going forward, this council, its decisions, its actions, and its deliberations will be enhanced by this singular act,” she said.

The council was established by the sub-regional bloc under the 1999 protocol on the mechanism for conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping, and security.

It acts as a supporting organ for preventive diplomacy and mediation interventions in member states within the region. In the past, the work of CoW culminated in the resolution of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars.

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