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ECOWAS female parliamentarians make case for gender parity

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The ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) has made an appeal to Nigeria and other countries in the West African sub-region to make laws that would ensure gender parity in their domain, adding that it is pertinent to create an atmosphere of gender equality in the countries of the sub-region for growth and harmony

Speaking while declaring open a Town Hall Meeting held in Abuja, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Sidie Mohammed Tunis, said it was pertinent to create an atmosphere of gender equality in the countries of the sub-region for growth and harmony, appreciating the demonstration of commitment and political will exhibited by President Julius Maada Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone, that recently signed into law the landmark Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill 2022, guaranteeing the principles of inclusion, representation, participation, and a more responsive posture on gender

“We are hopeful that similar action will be replicated in all our Member States,” he said, acknowledging and commending the important steps taken by ECOWAS Member States to address gender issues.

“My sincere anticipation is that the days that have been allocated to this event would no doubt open a vista of hope for democracy in our region. I am optimistic that the lessons learned at the end of this townhall meeting, would transcend our region. With our ambitious and vibrant young population, we have good reasons to look up to the future,” he added.

He reiterated that, “I am happy to note that the ECOWAS Parliament, through the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), has been a strong promoter of scaling up the number of female representations in politics and decision-making bodies in the sub region, by emphasising the importance of shared values and common policies as a basis for peace and sustainable development.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Ann Iyonu, has urged the West Africa region to prioritize women and youth representation in governance as a way of improving the sub-region.

Iyonu empathized that democracy cannot thrive and function well if it is not inclusive, adding that the women and youth are major components of the society who should play critical roles in leadership and governance.

She said that the town hall meeting, aimed at giving voice to the women and youth, was timely but expressed disappointment over the low percentage of women elected into the next Assembly of Nigeria.

She also pointed out that the women and youth representatives especially in the parliaments of the West African region is very low compared to other regions in Africa where the gap has increasingly and progressively narrowed.

She narrated that in West Africa, only 15.7 per cent of the average proportion of seats were held by women in the national parliaments, which means the region is lagging behind other parliaments in Africa like East Africa with 30.8 per cent, Central Africa 21.7 per cent and North Africa with 20.3 per cent.

She however advocated that there should be a conscious and deliberate effort in changing the status quo of women and youth through education programmes that will boost the knowledge and skills of women and youth in the civic engagement, politics, leadership and public speaking through mentorship and networking opportunities.

 

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