ECOWAS Engages Youth And Women On Its Vision 2050

ECOWAS Engages Youth And Women On Its Vision 2050

ECOWAS Commission has called for more youth and Women participation in its vision 2050, in a two-day workshop, held in Abuja, 25th – 26th March 2050. The workshop created a platform for ECOWAS to analytically engage with youth and women on the various challenges they face within the West African region that affects their economic development and identified the strategies and initiatives. It also recommends policies, programmes and projects to address the various challenges which will enhance Vision 2050 and make it all-inclusive.  

 The workshop promoted a shared understanding of the aims, objectives and mandate of ECOWAS as well as proposed an action plan for effective involvement of youth and women in the design and implementation of ECOWAS programmes and projects and recommend long term plans for the region in terms of the “West Africa, they want to see”. Participants were also sensitized to the key opportunities available in the region, which could be optimized for the benefit of the community as a whole.   

 The Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, Madam Finda Karoma in her opening remarks, emphasized the importance of the two-day meeting in ensuring that the ECOWAS 2050 development process is participatory and all-inclusive. Hence the need to consult with women and youth, who are the largest and the most vulnerable groups in West Africa.   

 Madam Karoma stressed the importance of seeing the large population of youth within the region as an asset that could generate demographic dividends. These can be achieved by empowering, motivating and educating the youth so they can be immune to the various vices and exploitations, ranging from drug trafficking to recruitment into terrorist and criminal gangs. It is therefore imperative, as we develop the ECOWAS region’s Vision for the next 30 years, to see how we can best address youth unemployment. It is a basic fact that no country or region can develop if the majority of the working-age population is unemployed so let the youth see themselves as the solution to various socio-economical problems, she added.  

 The youth groups such as “Y’en a Marre” in Senegal or the “Balai Citoyen” in Burkina Faso in the consolidation of peace and democracy is a perfect illustration of how the youth can contribute constructively, to the development of their communities and such initiatives should be encouraged and supported through greater access to education and skills development through training in well-equipped facilities like the ECOWAS youth development centre in Burkina Faso. 

 She noted that gender inequalities within the region,   continue to persist, despite the progress made by most countries in terms of women’s participation in the economic and social sectors, policymaking and leadership.  She recalled the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government’s Declaration on Zero Tolerance to Sexual and Gender-based Violence and the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls in the ECOWAS Region.  With West  Africa having some of the highest rates of maternal mortality, low level of women’s education, financial and digital independence, violence against women, child marriages and female genital mutilations playing a large role in hindering women progress, the ECOWAS Leaders have tried to address these various challenges by setting the tone for the promotion of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) with the establishment of the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC) in January 2003 which is a specialized agency charged with the responsibility of implementing the various gender-based policies and protocols and their harmonisation in all member states.  

 This commitment has further materialized through the adoption of a number of instruments and mechanisms by various ECOWAS entities, including the ECOWAS Gender Policy in 2004, Gender Management System, the Gender Strategic Plan Framework, and the youth and child policies and the Supplementary Act on Equality of Rights between Women and Men for Sustainable Development in the ECOWAS Region. It is therefore clear, that building a brighter future for the region would require addressing issues affecting our women and youth.  

 She called on the participants to take a critical look at the issues and challenges and propose concrete solutions that would address the challenges faced by women and youth in West Africa. For my part, I can assure you that your recommendations will be taken seriously and will be incorporated in the Vision 2050 documents for implementation on the ground. Let me also assure you of the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment for your active involvement in the Vision’s implementation process, she ended.  

 Mr Joseph Uyi, Head of ECOWAS National Office Nigeria, traced the journey of the transformation of ECOWAS Vision 2020 to 2050, from 2007, when the ECOWAS Heads of State in response to the many persistent challenges facing the region, mandated the ECOWAS Commission to establish a comprehensive roadmap for a new strategy, post vision 2020, that will address these challenges and reflect the community’s aspirations and projections for he next 30 years.  

 He further highlighted the achievements of the region in the past years, in women and youth empowerment, cross border trading and management, trade liberalisation scheme, the establishment of 6 Joint border posts while reiterating the aim of the workshop as an avenue for participants to be acquainted with the various innovative strategies designed by ECOWAS to address their challenges, especially in access to justice, empowerment, migration, trading and education. He concluded by stating that the transformation of ECOWAS from “ECOWAS of State, to ECOWAS of People” is non-negotiable because this impacts directly on the community.  

 Mr. Ludwig Kirchner, GIZ ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator, in his remarks, hailed the participants for braving the new norms of travelling in accordance with the Covid-19 protocols to be part of this Regional consultation of Women and Youths on the development of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 blueprint. As the West Africa region’s population is growing and with a large part being the youth and women, it is imperative that we redefine our perspective on the role of youth and women as policy developers, economic actors, and key drivers of social change. 

He asked the participants to see the workshop as an important opportunity for them to assist ECOWAS in re-aligning the policy trajectory to their realities. You are given a voice to ensure that your generation and the next are heard and your concerns integrated into the Vision pillars that will support the region for the next thirty (30) years, he added  

 With Vision 2050, ECOWAS and its partners are committed to developing policies that will promote youth and women empowerment. We share the conviction with ECOWAS that now is the time to invest in the people, particularly in the young people of the region, so that they can become agents of economic growth and social stability. In fact, during previous discussions on the topic, ECOWAS has been debating how to put an emphasis on “women, youth and vulnerable” groups. This consultation is an opportunity to voice out your aspirations for the region but more importantly for yourselves, he said.  

 The Nigerian Ministers, for Women Affairs and Social Development,  Dame Paulin Tallen and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mister Zubairu Dada, who was represented by Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, both stressed the importance of the role youth and women will play in drafting the ECOWAS Vision 2050 because they are the engine rooms of every progressive society. They congratulated ECOWAS for this great initiative and for bringing women and youth to the front burner of policy-making within the region.  

 National youth organizations from each member states, ECOWAS Commission staff, representatives of UNECA and GIZ participated in the workshop.  

 

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.