UN Women chief hails ECOWAS for gender equality

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, has commended ECOWAS for its role as “a driving force for gender equality and women’s empowerment in West Africa.”

Bachelet made the commendation during a meeting with officials of the ECOWAS Commission, led by its President Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, at the commission's headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, Thursday

The UN Women's boss, who is Chile’s former President, also commended ECOWAS for recognising the importance of women’s participation in peace-building, including in its Conflict Prevention Framework.

“ECOWAS can play a role in enabling women to make their full contribution to economic development, and to take their place alongside men as decision makers and leaders,” she said, adding that women should also be put at the “centre of political dialogue, recovery and rebuilding.”

The UN official updated the meeting on the work of UN Women, including its support for the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Seven Point Action plan on Gender-Responsive Peace-building in Liberia and Mali, as well as many other countries worldwide.

“While the Seven Point Action plan is focused on the UN, UN Women encourages ECOWAS to adopt plans with similar concrete targets for allocating resources to women and girls in post-conflict contexts,” Bachelet canvassed.

For its part, President Ouédraogo congratulated the UN Women Chief on the quality of her leadership, which he described as exemplary and inspirational.

He briefed the meeting on the Commission’s various programmes and activities promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Apart from having a full fledged directorate on Human Development and Gender, ECOWAS also has a Gender Development Centre based in Dakar, Senegal, the operations of which feed into the wider regional initiatives for the empowerment and improvement of the lot of women in West Africa.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Commission has said it will continue to pursue polities and programmes that promote gender equality and private sector participation in its regional integration and enterprise development efforts in accordance with its mandate.

To this end, President Ouedraogo told a Private Sector Interactive Session held at the Commission’s Abuja Headquarters on Thursday that ECOWAS was propelling a project on Business Incubators for African Women Entrepreneurs with assistance from the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for Africa.

This is aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs in agri-business, agro-processing and handicrafts as well as provision of financial, technical and organisational capacity building.

President Ouédraogo, who was represented by Vice-President Dr. Toga McIntosh at the Session - held in honour of Bachelet, noted that “financing gender-sensitive and people-oriented development are key to ensuring sustainable development.”

“We therefore have no choice, if we seek sustained economic, social and political development, but to recognise and adequately support the role of women in the process of nation-building,” he said, expressing the hope that the interactive session, with the theme “Financing Women Empowerment and Gender Equality,” would yield significant dividends not only to business but also towards enhancing overall sustainable human development.

The interactive session was attended among others, by Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Hajiya Zainab Maina, Ekiti State First Lady Bisi Fayemi and representatives of private sector stakeholders including women groups.

Madam Bachelet is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria, as part of a three-nation West African tour that had already taken her to Mali and Senegal.
-0- PANA SEG 11Jan2013

11 january 2013 17:26:22




xhtml CSS