West Africa: ECOWAS Galvanises Support to Increase Women Participation in Electroral Processes in the Region in Collaboration with UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU)

The Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs engaged virtually with ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), Women Leaders, ECOWAS Election Assistance and Democracy and Good Governance Divisions, Civil Society Organisations and Independent Experts to fashion ways to increase effective engagement, participation and inclusion of women in the electoral processes and representation in Political and Governance processes in the ECOWAS region in general.
The interaction took place during the Second ECOWAS Annual Gender Policy Dialogue on Women Participation in Peace and Political Processes with the theme: Increasing Women Participation in Electoral Processes in the ECOWAS Region. The meeting had in attendance Heads and Representatives of Member States’ Electoral Commissions from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Togo, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

At the Opening Ceremony, the Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, represented by Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs welcomed the participants and congratulated Member States that have successfully held their General Elections in 2019 and 2020. She specially thanked the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) for the new partnership and collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and the Swedish Government for funding the activity.
She expressed delight that Constitutional and Multiparty Democracy is being firmly rooted in the region despite numerous challenges. She reiterated that lasting peace can only be guaranteed in the region when Democratic Institutions have representation reflective of the different groups in the society. She stressed that inclusive election and democracy are key to peace and stability in the region.

She therefore charged participants to use their networks and continue to advocate for equal inclusion and representation of women, non-violent election as well as adherence to and respect for Code of Conduct Provisions as contained in the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Good Governance during and after elections.
In his Remarks, the Sweden Ambassador to Nigeria, H. E Carl-Michael Gran, represented by the Deputy Head of Mission in the Embassy, Ms. Anna Rääs, thanked the ECOWAS Commission and the UNOAU for a successful collaboration and also congratulated the Republic of Ghana for a successful General Election. She affirmed the Government of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and commitment to promoting programmes that ensure the increased participation of women in Peace Operations and other Processes through its Agency for Peace, Security and Development – the Folke Bernadotte Academy. She reiterated that sustainable peace can only be achieved in the society by including women, who make up to half of the population in every Election and Peace process.