ECOWAS identifies strategies to promote girls, women participation in green economy

The Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), has identified national strategies to promote girls and women’s participation in the green economy.

A statement on the website of ECOWAS indicated that the strategies were part of the outcome of the Regional Workshop held in Saly, Senegal from Feb. 6 to 8.

The ECOWAS Member-States Regional Technical Workshop had the theme “Placing Women at the Centre of the Transition to a Green Economy in West Africa”.

The workshop was jointly organised by the ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre (EGDC) and the United Nations Women Regional Office for West and Central Africa.

It aimed at engaging ECOWAS member states in a policy dialogue on Focus Area 2 of the Roadmap for the implementation of the ECOWAS Disaster Risk Reduction Gender Strategy and Action Plan.

In her address, Regional Director of UN Women, Mrs Elena Ruiz Abril, said the workshop was part of a series of activities carried out by UN Women and ECOWAS.

The activities were to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment within the framework of the transition to a green economy in West Africa.

 “Women and girls in West Africa already play a major role in the transition to a green economy through their role in key sectors such as agriculture, forestry, energy, solid waste management and ecotourism.

“However, the findings of a study by UN Women and the African Development Bank show that women are not well represented in sectors such as energy, infrastructure and transport, where most green jobs or better green jobs will be created.”

Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, however said the challenges, however, remained enormous.

Sarr also said that there was a need to carry out sectoral analyses on possible green job opportunities for women.

She said this was to inform decision-makers on the appropriate gender-responsive approach to be considered in policies and to ensure a successful transition to green jobs.

She also added that it would maintain high added value and profitable levels for women.

“We must also address harmful social norms and practices that limit women’s access to land, finance, technology and certain tasks and jobs in green job sectors.

“We must attach some economic value and reward to women’s unpaid work to accelerate the transition to a green economy,” she said.

In a remark, Dr Fatou Diane Gueye, Minister of Women, Family and Children Affairs of the Republic of Senegal, said there was an urgent need for the ECOWAS region to step up community initiatives.

Gueye emphasised the need to consolidate individual efforts of member states.

The minister was represented by Mrs Astou Diouf Gueye, National Director for Gender Equity and Equality, Senegal.

She said it was important to redesign a collective model for a successful transition to a green economy in West Africa.

“It would also be interesting to build on women’s indigenous skills while strengthening their resilience, their access to, and control, of productive and technological resources for sustainable land management and climate information.”

At the end of the regional workshop, member states took ownership of the ECOWAS Action Plan on Gender and Climate Change.

This was in line with Focus Area 2 which highlighted the place of women at the centre of the transition to a green economy in Africa.

Member states also identified national strategies to promote women’s participation in the green economy and develop a project plan and fundraising strategy in support of the implementation of national and regional policies.

About 40 policy makers from ECOWAS Regional institutions and member states were invited to the technical workshop to discuss the place of women and girls in the transition to a green economy.

They included representatives from the ministries of ECOWAS member states in charge of gender and women, environment, economy, finance, planning, entrepreneurship and labour.

The ECOWAS Commission, its institutions and agencies, UN Women, Regional and International Institutions and Civil Society Organisations were also part of the workshop.