Press Releases

Celebration of International Women’s Day: ECOWAS values the ef-forts of women in member States in terms of empowerment in times of COVID-19.

20 Mar, 2021

“Sharing online innovations made by processors of agricultural, fishery and artisanal products in ECOWAS member States with a view to resilience against the COVID-19 pan-demic” was the central theme of the virtual session initiated this Tuesday 16th March 2021 by the ECOWAS Center for Gender Development (CCDG). This initiative was taken to cele-brate the 2021 edition of International Women’s Day.

Dakar, Sénégal, le 18 mars 2021. The celebration of the IWD 2021 was marked this year by the organization of a virtual session to share the experiences and innovations of women processors of agricultural, fishing and arti-sanal products for their resilience in the face of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in ECOWAS member States. This initiative of the ECOWAS Gender Development Center (EGDC) held on Tuesday morning, 16th March, 2021 through the Zoom virtual communication plat-form, was officially launched by Dr. Siga Fatima JAGNE, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social and Gender Affairs.

This session was attended by representatives of the Ministries in charge of women, gender and family of ECOWAS Member States; groups and networks of women beneficiaries of the “EGDC technical and financial support program for women involved in the processing of agricultural, fishing and artisanal products”; support structures for entrepreneurship and / or microfinance; the members of the national steering committees of the Transformation Program; and tech-nical and financial partners focusing agriculture, livestock and fishing; more particularly those involved in the processing of agricultural, fishing and artisanal products in West Africa.

In her opening address, Commissioner JAGNE reverted to the persistence of social and cultural obstacles which hinder women’s leadership despite the efforts of certain Member States to foster the participation of women in political and economic decisions through the vote on par-ity and quota laws: “new challenges have arisen with the COVID-19 pandemic: increased domestic violence and gender-based violence, loss of income, poverty, increase in child marriages, female genital cutting etc. And yet, faced with COVID-19, women are on the front line and they are among the most effective leaders in the health, community and so-cial fight. ”. She ended with an appeal to women: “..for women to take their place 100%, they will necessarily have to demonstrate audacity in order to overcome the many obsta-cles linked to stereotypes and prejudices. : because female leadership is a daily struggle! “

Several thematic debates enriched this meeting, including a mapping of best practices and innovations of the ECOWAS transformation program of agricultural, fishery and artisanal prod-ucts; the presentation of experiences of certain Member States (Benin, Cabo Verde, Gambia, Senegal); and sharing the experiences of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CO-RAF) on examples of gender sensitive technologies. At the end of the discussions, the main axes of the roadmap to support women transformers in times of COVID and post-COVID were presented, as well as avenues for partnerships, particularly in the areas of access to technologies and land, the marketing of products and the financing of wom-en’s initiatives.

Several recommendations were made during this virtual session. Among others, the partici-pants urged the EGDC to pursue initiatives to support women processors of fishery and arti-sanal agricultural products in ECOWAS member States to enable them to remove the con-straints related to access to technologies, financing and skills development. Regarding the ex-periences of processing fishery and artisanal agricultural products, the participants recom-mend that the EGDC advocate with the ministries in charge of gender issues to facilitate the transfer of gender-sensitive technologies to organizations; and to support inter-profession de-velopment, bringing together producers and traders to better promote marketing of products.

With regard to gender-sensitive technologies, the participants call on the EGDC in particular to develop platforms for the exchange of experiences and training in simple and practical tech-nologies for the benefit of women and their organizations. Regarding the roadmap, the EGDC is urged to promote the consumption of local products through advocacy with governments for measures to help the producers sell their production and to access appropriate equipment and packaging.

Finally, regarding partnership avenues, the participants ask, among others, that CCDG initiates collaboration with institutions such as IFAD, the Canadian Cooperation; the Arab Bank for Eco-nomic Development in Africa (BADEA), the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, Plan International, UNWOMEN, the Regional Water Partnership, CORAF / WECARD to facilitate the large-scale dissemination of technologies to women leaders and their organizations.

Member States