ECOWAS women affairs ministers seek end to terrorists’ abduction of girls

BOKOPledges for Boko Haram victims yet to be redeemed

MINISTERS in charge of women, children and social issues in member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have called for an end to the abduction of women and girls by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

 The call is part of resolution reached by the ministers at the end of a two-day meeting held in Dakar, Senegal where three fundamental documents on gender issues were adopted for implementation at all levels of regional intervention.

  A statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, named the documents as the Draft Supplementary Act on Equality of Rights between Women and Men for Sustainable Development within the ECOWAS Region, the Draft ECOWAS Plan of Action on Gender and Trade, and the Draft ECOWAS Gender and Migration Framework and Plan of Action.

 The ministers unanimously adopted a declaration on the abduction of the 200 Chibok girls and other persons, mainly women and children, carried out in northern Nigeria by insurgents, and demanded their immediate and unconditional release.

   The abductions were condemned and described as criminal. The ECOWAS gender ministers also condemned the recruitment of young girls to carry out suicide attacks, bombings, burning of villages and destruction of infrastructure in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram.

  Among other issues raised at the meeting was the need for women to have access to credit, for those of them in livestock farming and fishery. Attention was also drawn to the need for the implementation of the ECOWAS Gender Policy.

  The Draft Supplementary Act on Equality of Rights between Women and Men for Sustainable Development within the ECOWAS Region was adopted subject to certain amendments. The meeting agreed to have the finalized document transmitted to the ministers of gender before onward presentation to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.

  The Draft ECOWAS Plan of Action on Gender and Trade was also adopted subject to the inclusion of certain points on animal products and fishery, while the Draft ECOWAS Gender and Migration Framework and Plan of Action was adopted without reservation.

  The ministerial meeting also considered several other documents such as the Accra Declaration on Social Protection, the situation of the 200 school girls abducted in Chibok, northern Nigeria in April 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorist group, implementation of the ECOWAS Gender Policy, report on the Gender situation in West Africa in 2014 and the response to the Ebola virus epidemic in the region.

  The report on the gender situation in West Africa was adopted subject to consideration of observations made by the participants. Member states were however asked to update their data on gender and transmit to the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre based in Dakar, so that current realities can be reflected.

  With respect to the Ebola virus disease in the region, the meeting while commending measures taken by the ECOWAS to halt the spread of the disease, recommended among other things, the setting up of a fund for managing diseases (post epidemic period) as well as the conduct of a study on gender and Ebola in West Africa to encourage government funding.

  Meanwhile, indications have emerged from the presidency that pledges made by individuals and some committee to support victims affected by insurgency in the North East are yet to be redeemed.

 Specifically it was learnt that committees including the Oil and Gas and Bankers Committee, among some private individuals who made donations during the dinner held at the presidential villa to raise fund for the Internally Displaced Persons, are yet to come up with their pledges.

  It was learnt that Gen. T.Y Danjuma who is the president of the committee has only redeemed N10million of the $10million that was pledged during the dinner.

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