Discrimination against women increasing in West Africa — ECOWAS

The ECOWAS Commission has expressed concern that significant discrimination against women continues unabated in the West African region despite the ratification of numerous regional and international human rights instruments by Member States.

The commission said this in a statement issued on the occasion of its maiden celebration of the ‘ECOWAS Human Rights Day.’

“The Commission further noted that these situations do not only violate the principle of equal rights and respect for human dignity, but also constitute an obstacle to the participation of women, on
equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their countries, thereby hindering the realization of an integrated, prosperous and developed ECOWAS region,” the statement said.

It therefore, charged the respective national human rights institutions in the sub-region to take practical measures in the implementation of relevant provisions of conventions, protocols and international legal framework aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights.

The commission said it was necessary for Member States to take steps to promote women’s rights and ability to have access to participate in the economic endeavours of their countries.

“To this ends, their ability to obtain credit and own lands and benefit from relevant inheritance laws should be facilitated to enable women to be economically empowered,” it added.

Human Rights Day: NHRC Decries Alarming Conditions Of Women In IDP Camps, West Africa

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has on Monday expressed deep concerns over the alarming conditions of women in Internally Displaced Person’s(IDP) camp as well as the large number of stateless women in West Africa.

Speaking in Abuja at the maiden edition of the ECOWAS Human Rights Day, the Acting Executive Secretary, Mrs. Oti Ovrawah lamented that of the 750, 000 stateless persons in West Africa, Women constitutes 60 per cent.

Ovrawah who is also the President,Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa(NNHRI-WA), noted however that the theme of the celebration, ‘The Rights of Women and Young persons’ is apt as it focuses attention on the plight of women across all places in West Africa where there have been violence in recent times.

According to her; “At the inception of ECOWAS in 1975, human rights was not regarded as priority, ECOWAS is increasingly accepting the fact that respect for and observation of human rights obligations is a necessity if community citizens must enjoy economic and social rights. The celebration is one that should be used to map out strategies for tackling human rights challenges that face the region.

“You will recall that human rights challenges in the region are many. These range from poor prison conditions, weak criminal justice administration, poor access to education and information, violence against women, child abuse and poor access to health amongst others” she said.

She further implored ECOWAS Commission to establish a protocol to ensure the effectiveness and activeness of all National Human Rights Institutions through well trianed personnel and adequate funding, adding that development partners and inter government institutions should not relent in assisting to advance the course of human rights in the region.

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