Protection and Promotion of Women’s Rights in ECOWAS Countries
In December 2012, a delegation of women from West Africa came to Canada to exchange with the Conseil du statut de la femme (CSF) on the project of a “Protocol for the Equality of Rights between Women and Men, for a Sustainable Development in West Africa”.
This visit took place as part of the Uniterra Program, more specifically in relation to its regional project in equality between women and men. The Protocol is a legal instrument which seeks to reinforce the application of legislation and policies on the protection and promotion of women’s rights, for the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, i.e. 16 countries. This project is championed by Coalitions of Women Organisations, Uniterra partners, in five countries of West Africa, in collaboration with the Ecowas Gender Development Center (EGDC) and supported by the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.
The delegation was made up of Mrs Aminata Dibba, EGDC Director, Salimata Thiam, EGDC Gender Programs and Policies Officer, Fatou Kiné Diop, President of the Observatoire national de la parité du Sénégal, and Mariame Coulibaly, Equality between Women and Men Specialist for the Uniterra Program. They were accompanied by Mrs Louise Camiré, Officer in charge of coordinating and implementing equality between women and men projects for CECI.
From December 3-5, 2012, the delegation members met with the President of the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec, Mrs Julie Miville-Dechêne, to learn about the organisation’s mission, fields of action, philosophy and structures. They were also able to discuss with organisation representatives from the Québec region, namely the Regroupement des groupes de femmes de la région de la Capitale-Nationale, the Intervention Prostitution Québec Project, the Chaire de recherche Claire-Bonenfant de l’Université Laval and the Group Femmes, Politique et Démocratie. Finally, they were able to greet Mrs. Pauline Marois, Québec’s Prime Minister, and Agnès Maltais, Minister in charge of women’s conditions.
The approach toward a Protocol on the Equality between Women and Men of ACOWAS is unique in the sense that civil society organisations were involved and have a right of inspection on the application of the Protocol. The Protocol also has a real added value as it takes into accounts the new challenges facing the countries (such as climate change issues); it includes concrete and constraining monitoring mechanisms (with performance indicators) and foresees sanctions in case of non-respect of the Protocol.
Even though Uniterra plays an accompanying role in the development, promotion and implementation of the Protocol, once ratified, ECOWAS will be in charge of monitoring its implementation and application, as well as sharing its best practices. At the time, ECOWAS will particularly need the support of its partners to ensure the Protocol’s efficient implementation. “Together, we can go further”, emphasized Mrs Aminata Dibba, EGDC Director.