Ministers in charge of gender and women in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states have adopted two essential documents prepared by ECOWAS for the protection of women’s rights in the region.

The two documents contain the ECOWAS regional strategy for prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV) and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls and the ECOWAS policy on prevention and response to sexual harassment at workplaces and educational institutions.

Forty percent of girls get married before the age of 18 and 24 percent before the age of 15 in West and Central Africa, according to data from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

In a 2021 study, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) noted that between 2018 and 2019, there were 795 cases of GBV in Burkina Faso while GBV in Mali rose to 54 percent during Covid-19 compared to 43 percent before the pandemic.

Priority pillars identified for the regional strategy against GBV include developing, implementing and strengthening relevant laws and policies on GBV at the regional and national levels, as well as related issues across all sectors concerned.

As regards the ECOWAS policy on sexual harassment at work and educational institutions, proposes a framework for action to eradicate sexual harassment in the region as soon as possible.

The guiding principles of the policy includes zero tolerance of sexual harassment at workplaces and educational institutions in the region.

‘These two policies to combat gender-based violence and to combat sexual harassment that are proposed for the adoption of our honourable ministers responsible for gender and women are the result of built-in consultation on scientific evidence but also political commitments and calls to action by all actors of gender equality in the region to guarantee the protection of the physical and psychological integrity of women, girls and boys against all forms of violence’, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Siga Fatima Jagne, said.

The two documents were prepared with financial support from Ford Foundation.

Source: ECOWAS

Photo source: ECOWAS


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