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ECOWAS women commit to speeding up  process of overcoming crisis in the region


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On the initiative of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, Pr. Fatou Sow Sarr, a high-level workshop was held at the Hôtel Royal in Saly, (Senegal), on the Production of knowledge and data on “Women, Peace and Security in the ECOWAS space.” Supported by the Mujeres por África Foundation, a private Spanish non-profit organization, the workshop was facilitated by Dr. Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute.

From December 19 to 21, 2023, ECOWAS women found an innovative and inclusive framework for constructive dialogue around their involvement in peacebuilding, security and conflict resolution. Thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, and supported by Mujeres por Africa, a regional technical dialogue on the production of knowledge and data on “Women, Peace and Security in the ECOWAS space” was conducted over three days, involving leading women actors.

The meeting was attended by prominent women who have witnessed the recent history of conflicts in the West African sub-region and even Central Africa. This technical dialogue provided a forum for consultation and exchange of experience on a variety of topics, leading to concrete action based on ongoing dialogue. The technical workshop brought together field experts and researchers to generate knowledge and produce data on the various conflicts, the ways in which women intervene and the solutions found.

The concrete experiences and untold stories of women’s contribution to peace and security inspired the need to initiate a political dialogue with decision-makers to guide public policy on peace and security in the region.
According to the Commissioner, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, this technical dialogue with researchers and organizations working on the issue of “Women, Youth, Peace and Security” was only a prelude to various initiatives such as social dialogue with communities to better understand the problems of “Gender, Peace and Security in the ECOWAS region” and the appropriate responses that should be made.

Appeal to ECOWAS for greater involvement of women in crisis resolution

Through the voice of Ambassador Oumou Sall Seck of Mujeres por Africa, who is also President of the Board of Directors of the Observatoire du Genre au Mali (OGM), participants hailed this unprecedented initiative. They welcomed the relevant knowledge to establish the roadmap for social dialogue. They spoke at length of the need to set up a platform of federative structures, networks of experts and resource persons with proven experience in peace and security. They called for a new impetus at ECOWAS level to better involve women in resolving current crises.
The participants were selected on the basis of their research and life experience on the theme of “women, peace and security”, and who could contribute evidence-based data and enriching experiences to the technical dialogue.
To give continuity and coherence to the activities selected for the overall project, the technical dialogue was able to count on the participation of the countries where the Dialogue with Communities will be held. These include Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone.

The experts come from ECOWAS member states that have experienced conflict, the Mano Rover Union, the G5 Sahel, Mujeres Por Africa and universities/research institutes working on “Women, Peace and Security” issues. In an inclusive approach based on learning through experience, beyond West Africa, the experience of the G5 Sahel, Sudan, DRC and Burundi will also be used to enrich the discussions.

Taking place in a complex regional context, the Workshop aimed, among other things, to set up a platform of federative structures, other networks of experts and resource persons with proven experience in peace and security. This platform will enable ECOWAS to unite the forces of thought and action in the service of peace and security in the region.

ECOWAS, it should be recalled, has always made women’s contribution to peace-building a priority, relying on mechanisms such as its Early Warning System; its Mediation and Security Council; its Women, Peace and Security Committee within the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department; civil society networks such as the West African Women’s Network for Peace and Security (REPSFECO); and training institutes such as the Koffi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.
The Kingdom of Spain, an enduring partner of ECOWAS, has also adopted a feminist foreign policy, pledging to support the empowerment of women and girls in all its foreign policy.

Special Correspondence

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