ECOWAS establishes working group on Gender Based Violence, child protection 

In fulfillment of the President of the ECOWAS Commission’s directive towards stamping out
Gender Based Violence/Violence Against Children (GBV/VAC) in the region, the Department of
Social Affairs and Gender has established a Regional Partners/CSOs/Non-State Actors Working
Group Against Gender Based Violence/Violence Against Children (ECW-RPWG-GBV/VAC) on the
12th of October, 2020.
The purpose of the Intervention is to use ECOWAS’ convening mandate to galvanize immediate
action across the ECOWAS region towards eradicating SGBV and ensuring that every child and
woman are protected now and beyond the COVID -19 Pandemic. The Working Group will also
enhance the capacity of the ECOWAS Commission, Member States, Development Partners and
major Stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations and Non-State Actors in responding to
In her Opening Address during the inauguration of the Working Group, the Commissioner for
Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, stated that Gender
Based Violence including Violence against Children is a pervasive human rights concern that
keeps growing especially in times of economic uncertainty, civil unrest, disaster and pandemics
like the COVID-19 pandemic. She regretted that despite the Constitutional provisions on the
principle of equality between men and women in the Member States and other policy
frameworks and documents adopted at the international, continental, regional and national
levels, GBV/VAC continues to be widespread and present in all the ECOWAS Member States, in
familiar and new forms. Hence the need to establish the Working Group as other existing similar
structures do not and cannot address SGBV adequately since their main areas of focus are
limited. She therefore charged the members of the Working Group to interface with other
related structures/ networks at both national and regional levels to ensure that concerted
response by Member States and other actors towards the total elimination of GBV/VAC in the
ECOWAS region; is achieved.
According to the Commissioner, in order to ensure that the Working Group works in concert with
Member States, the Department of Social Affairs and Gender is deploying a two-tier Platform
approach and will also establish an ECOWAS Member States Network of Focal Institutions
Against GBV/VAC (ECW-MSN-GBV/VAC); whose membership would be drawn from Trafficking in
Persons Focal Institutions, National Human Rights Commissions, Ministries of Women and
Gender, the Police and the Judiciary of all Member States.

In their Goodwill Messages during the inauguration, the UNICEF Regional Director for West and
Central Africa Office Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier, the UN-OCHA Head of Office for West and Central

Africa Ms. Julie Belanger as well as the Secretary of the Regional Working Group on Child
Protection (GRPE) Mr. Aime Bada, agreed that GBV is a protection issue especially for women
and girls in emergency situations. They recommitted their organisations’ support to ECOWAS
and to mobilizing other regional actors on GBV towards the total eradication of the menace in
the region.
In her presentation on the Terms of Reference for the Working Group, the Head of Human
Security and Civil Society Division, Hajiya Raheemat Momodu, stated that the Group is expected
to be engaged with support to research, advocacy, the provision of both financial and non-
financial resources and technical support to Member States in combatting SGBV; including in-
country direct interventions. Furthermore, the Group is expected to support ECOWAS and its
Member States to mainstream prevention and management of GBV/VAC in National
Development Plans during the COVID- 19 Pandemic and beyond; as well as provide an avenue
for ECOWAS to promote closer cooperation between Member States and partners and mobilize
resources from partners to support Member States.

The Working Group’s membership is drawn from the ranks of Development Partners, INGOs, Civil
Society Organizations and other Non-State Actors including the Private Sector and the Media
within the ECOWAS region. In their closing remarks, the representatives of WACSOF, FEWACCI
and AfDB commended the ECOWAS Commission for the initiative and reiterated their
commitment to the Group. In her closing remarks, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, Director Humanitarian
and Social Affairs on behalf of the Commissioner, thanked the participants and appreciated the
resilience of West Africans in the fight against Covid – 19 pandemic.


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