ECOWAS Insists Women, Children Need to be Involved in Peace Building in West Africa


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has insisted that women, children and youth must be involved in the search of peace and security in the West African region.

The Director Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa-Ugbe, said it would be difficult to address the challenges of insecurity and violence in the region without these set of people because they are mostly affected.

Tarfa-Ugbe spoke in Abuja at the 2024 First Annual meeting of the ECOWAS Women Peace and Security Regional Steering Group with the theme: “Sustaining the momentum towards monitoring and reporting on women, peace, and security agenda using the continental results framework (CRF).”

She decried that for long the issue of security and peace have been left in the hands of other people while the women, children and youth have been silent, insisting that “it is time for their voices to be heard.”

Tarfa-Ugbe said: “For us as ECOWAS Commission, peace and security is an important pillar of development. And we can’t talk about peace and security without women and children and the youth.

"Part of our work as ECOWAS Commission is to continue to promote the  inclusivity of women, children and youth in the peace and security and stability agender of the region.

"We are here with representatives of the 15 members state to report to us on what they are doing and what are the challenges and how we can consolidate on addressing the peace and security issues.

"We don’t want the agenda to be dominated by people who are not affected by the issues.

"Women and children are the ones who are affected by the issue,  we want their voices to be heard on the table.

She claimed that the various representations shows how important the meeting was. 

The Director said: “Today you can see that the Commissioner Human Development and Social Affairs, Prof. Sarr, as the representative of the ECOWAS President is here and also the Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye representing the Nigerian government. 

"And you know Nigeria is the Chair of ECOWAS and she has demonstrated that she’s ready to push the agenda but not push the agenda as policy talk but an action talk and we will continue that engagement with the members state and Nigeria moving forwar.

On her part, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, Commissioner, Human Development and Social Affairs said the meeting is of critical importance as  women play fundamental role in ensuring the sustainability of peace processes and resolutions of conflict.

She said that the meeting is meant to help restrategise and plan for the future 

Sarr said: “As we gather here, we are reminded of the critical importance of advancing the women, peace and security agenda in our region, with the understanding that peace and security are fundamental pillar for development and prosperity, and women play an indispensable role in ensuring the sustainability of peace processes and resolutions of conflict.

"In this workshop, we aim not only to exchange knowledge and experience but also to strategize and plan for the future. The continental results framework provide us with a roadmap, a guiding light towards achieving our collective goals in advancing the agenda by aligning our efforts with this framework, we can enhance coordination, cooperation and accountability across Ecowas member states in implementing the WPS agenda 

"We must recognize that achieving meaningful progress requires concerted action at all levels from grass roots communities to regional and  continental institutions as such, today we have the opportunity to dialogue share knowledge and further build our capacity to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities in advancing the women peace and security agenda.

"Ladies and gentlemen you will all  agree that together we represent a diverse array of backgrounds expertise and perspective, it is this diversity that will enrich our discussion and enable us to explore innovative approach to strategies and address the challenges ahead as we embark on this journey together let us remain mindful of the significance of our task and reaffirm our commitment to promoting the meaningful participation of women in decisions Glenda perspective into all aspects of peace and security initiatives 

"The stakes are high but so is our determination let us harness the collective energy and commitment in this room to drive real tangible progress towards a more peaceful inclusive and equitable region for all."

Nigeria’s Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, on her part, said the present government is ready to work on past policies to improve women situation in the country.

She lamented what women and children are made to face in the country especially in the way their issues are treated by the police, adding that the time has come to change the narrative.

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