By John Okeke
ECOWAS Commission held a two-day virtual meeting on the 21ST and 22nd December 2020 in commemoration of the 20THanniversary of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). UNSCR 1325 was adoption by the United Nations Security Council in 2000, which calls for increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict. The Resolution among other things also reaffirmed and emphasized the contributions Women make to Conflict Prevention, Peacekeeping, and Conflict Resolution.
The virtual event enabled participants reflect on the progress of Women, Peace and Security, their achievements and identified challenges. Representatives from ECOWAS Member States and other stakeholders and partners participated in the event. The event was organized by Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs in collaboration with other ECOWAS focal Departments supported by UNOAU and the Government of Sweden. TheTheme for the online event was Looking Backward, Restrategizing for the Future.
In her Keynote Address, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, underscored the importance of the event noting thatinstruments and strategies were put in place to protect women and girls and promote their participation in conflict prevention, politics, as well as mediation and peace negotiations. Dr. Jagne emphasized that ECOWAS is committed to strengthening the participation of women in decision-making bodies through the promotion of laws on gender equity and zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence in ECOWAS member states. Commissioner Jagne called on ECOWAS member states to be committed to promoting gender equality and mainstreaming the contribution of women in peace and security as part of their national development plans.
In his Remarks at the opening ceremony, representative of the Swedish Ambassador accredited to ECOWAS Commission, Mr Hans Karlsson, also underscored the importance of Resolution 1325 saying that women participation in peace negotiations and implementation is key to building sustainable peace and democratic society.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Special Representative of the Secretary General to the African Union and Head UNOAU, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, called onnational governments to do more in order to protect woman and girls particularly those in the rural communities against all forms of violence and abuse.
In her welcome remarks the Director Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, thanked participants and all stakeholders for their participation in what she described as a very important event designed to promote peace and security in the ECOWAS region.