Senegal: ECOWAS expresses commitment towards women's participation in democratic process

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The ECOWAS Commission Thursday reiterated its commitment to the promotion of the participation of women and their fair representation in the democratic process and governance in West Africa.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, ECOWAS said the commitment was given by its Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, during a three-day meeting of technical experts on gender and development which began on 21 June in Lomé, Togo.

The Commissioner also commended the participants for their willingness and availability to contribute their technical expertise towards the development of the ECOWAS Gender and Elections Strategic Framework (EGESF).

According to the statement, the aim of developing the EGESF is to provide practical guide to addressing gender barriers and promoting women and men’s equal participation throughout the electoral process.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Hajia Halima Ahmed, for her part, informed the experts that ECOWAS already had legal instruments which provide the solid foundation for ensuring the full participation of women and men in the political and decision-making processes as voters, candidates, elected officials and electoral management body staff.

However, she noted that with political representation of women in West Africa still about the lowest in the world, there is the need to define concrete actions to address gender inequality.

Mr. Francis Oke, Head of ECOWAS Commission’s Electoral Assistance Unit, expressed optimism about the potential of the EGESF to contribute to closing the gaps of women’s political participation in the region.

Meanwhile, the experts’ meeting which among others was called to review the draft of the ECOWAS Gender and Elections Strategic Framework (EGESF), is funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and facilitated by Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE).

Participants, while commending the comprehensive focus of the draft EGESF, also provided valuable information about the contextual realities in ECOWAS Member states, and made key suggestions towards improving the coherence of the document and the formulation of the action plan.

The statement pointed out that the three-day meeting is expected to greatly improve the structure and content of the EGESF, identify the key challenges and the strategic pillars to address them as well as define the specific and realistic activities within a time frame.

The outcome document would be presented for validation at a regional experts meeting to be held later.  
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 23June2016

23 june 2016 17:21:31

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