Ministers and ECOWAS women to combat sexual and Gender-based violence

Ministers and ECOWAS women
Ministers and ECOWAS women

Meeting on Friday October 15, 202 in Dakar, Senegal, the Ministers in charge of Gender and Women of ECOWAS Member States validated the two essential documents developed by ECOWAS for the protection of women’s rights in Africa. the west. These include the ECOWAS regional strategy for the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls; and the ECOWAS policy on preventing and responding to sexual harassment in workplaces and educational institutions in the region.

Initiated by the Department of Social Affairs and Gender of the ECOWAS Commission through the ECOWAS Center for Gender Development (CCDG), this meeting of Ministers follows that of Experts in charge of Gender and Women from the ECOWAS held from October 11 to 13, 2021 in Dakar, Republic of Senegal. The two documents, the subject of this meeting, were drawn up with the financial support of the FORD Foundation.

The main objectives of the “ ECOWAS Regional Strategy for the Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence ” are to create a society free from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women. and girls, men and women of all ages. A few priority pillars have been identified for this regional strategy, including: developing, implementing and strengthening relevant laws and policies on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence at regional and national levels, as well as related issues in all areas. sectors concerned; set up comprehensive Care and Support Services for SGBV Victims / Survivors and Vulnerable Populations; etc.

Regarding the “ ECOWAS Policy on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and in Educational Institutions ”, it proposes a framework for action to eradicate sexual harassment in the region as soon as possible. The guiding principles of this policy are, among others: Zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace and in educational institutions in the region; official endorsement and adoption of this policy as a tool to reduce sexual harassment in workplaces and educational institutions in the ECOWAS region; etc.

The work of this meeting of Ministers was officially launched by Professor Moussa BALDE, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment, representing HE Mrs. Salimata DIOP DIENG, Minister of Women, Family, Gender and the protection of Children of the Republic of Senegal in the presence of Doctor Siga Fatima JAGNE, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender of ECOWAS. Were physically present at this meeting, the Ministers of The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Liberia, as well as the Representatives of the Ministers of Cote d’Ivoire and Niger. The other Ministers who were unable to make the trip intervened by videoconference.

After thanking the Senegalese authorities for the facilities granted for the holding of this meeting, Commissioner Siga Fatima JAGNE, on behalf of President Jean Claude Kassi BROU of the ECOWAS Commission, at the opening of the meeting, recalled that gender-based violence slows economic growth and negatively impacts regional integration. She also specified that: ” These two policies for the fight against gender-based violence and the fight against sexual harassment which are proposed for adoption by our honorable Ministers in charge of Gender and Women, are the result of consultations. built on scientific evidence but also on political commitments and calls to action from all actors of gender equality in the region to guarantee the protection of the physical and psychological integrity of women, girls and boys against all forms of violence. ”

Official opening of the works, Minister Moussa BALDE, representing Minister Ndeye Salimata DIOP DIENG in charge of Women in Senegal, especially pleaded for holistic responses, more effective and better adapted to the regional context to put an end to the violence to women and girls: ” This is, moreover, all the meaning that must be given to this relevant ECOWAS initiative, which emphasizes the promotion and adoption of regional strategy and policy for eradicate violence against women and children. ”

During this opening ceremony, speeches of solidarity were also made in particular by Mrs. Olufunke BARUWA of the FORD Foundation, Mrs. Florence RAES, the Deputy Regional Director of UNWOMEN and Mr. Rotimy DJOSSAYA, the Executive Director for Africa West of Plan International. Other partner institutions such as the West African Health Organization (WAHO), UNICEF, UNOWAS, CARE Internationale, GESTES laboratory of Gaston Berger University in Senegal and regional civil society represented by RESPFECO, ROAJELF, WILDAF, FOSCAO, CLVF, etc., also took part in this meeting.

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