Dakar, (Sénégal), 14th February 2022. The ECOWAS Commission, in partnership with the UN Women Regional Ofice for West and Central Africa and the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, organised a virtual West African Regional Consultation within the framework of preparations for the 66th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women La Commission (CSW66). This year, CSW66 took place from 14th to 25th March 2022 under the priority theme: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environ-mental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
The CSW being a unique space for building convergence among governments, civil society organizations, and technical and financial partners, it was important for the West Africa region to be heard as part of Africa’s Position on the topic of gender and climate change. It was important for the actors across the region to take this opportunity to jointly examine the trends, achievements, challenges, and existing gaps as well as actions to be taken to accelerate the implementation of gender equality commitments. It was against this backdrop, and building on past experiences on the organisation of pre-CSW consultations in West Africa, that ECOWAS organised this virtual consultation on 15th and 16th February.
The participants of this virtual meeting comprised of Ministers in charge of Gender and Women Affairs, Gender Experts, Civil Society organisations, Women and Youth organisations, Development Partners and the Media from ECOWAS Member States. The objective of the virtual meeting, for which the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (ECOWAS Centre for Gender De-velopment) provided strategic direction and leadership, was to take stock of the progress in West Africa region in terms of the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes. The two-day virtual consultation also discussed the main challenges and obstacles and agreed on a West Africa Common Position to be harmonized with the posi-tions of other African regions for the African position on the CSW66, and arrived at a consensus on the format of ECOWAS participation in the continental pre-CSW66 session.
It must be recalled that the CSW sessions are instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission takes a leading role in monitoring and reviewing progress and challenges in the implementation of the Beijing Decla-ration and Platform for Action (BDPfA), among others.
In addition, the UNDP project on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), which is being implemented in partnership with the ECOWAS Commission through the ECOWAS Gender Development Center (EGDC), is also a very timely intervention in furtherance of the objective to eliminate gender disparities and create an egalitarian society in which women and men have equal opportunities to participate, decide, control and benefit from all development initiatives.