By INNOCENT ODOH, Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been urged to take more steps to enhance women’s equal access to political power and decision making positions in the sub-region as well as improve their economic status through human capital development.
This was the crux of a virtual meeting organized by the ECOWAS Commission to mark 2021 International Women’s Day in Abuja, yesterday, which has the theme “ Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World” with the global theme for this year being “Choose To Challenge”.
Speaking during the meeting, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Finda Koroma, encouraged young women and girls to aspire to achieve higher goals in life by dreaming big and reach for their enormous pool of natural talents and competence to actualize their dreams.
She added that the ECOWAS Regional Stabilisation and Development Funds is targeted primarily at women and girls , stressing that institutional reforms in the commission will help position women to aspire to greater heights.
Also speaking during the meeting, the Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security, Fatimah Ahmed, called on the leaders of the region to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structure and decision-making. She noted that even though the region has taken some remarkable steps, there is a lot of work to be done.
“Around us and at far distances, in the media, we see that the situation of women and girls requires more attention (recall issues of rape, domestic violence, sexual exploitation of minors and women, underrepresentation of women in the public space etc). The International Women’s Day is a reminder for us all to recommit ourselves to the goal of improving the place of women in the Society. Nowhere is this critical now than in the spheres of leadership,” she said.
Contributing, President of ECOWAS Commission Women Forum, Hajiya Raheemat Omoro Momodu, in her speech, decried unfavorable representation of women even as she called for mainstreaming strategy to address the imbalance in ECOWAS institutions.
She said “A quick peep shows that we have 3 female out of 16 statutory appointees at the Commission (18.75%) and 7 female Directors out of 45 Directors in all ECOWAS Institutions (15.5%) including 2 female Special Representatives who are temporary staff. This means we have 2 female Special Representatives out of 14 (14.2%).
“The ECOWAS Commission should lead by example to the Member States so as to be in the position to insist the Member States comply with the beautiful ECOWAS Gender Equality texts we have developed.”