ECOWAS holds virtual meeting to assess needs of women in devel-opment (WID) networks implementing cross-border cooperation development projects in west Africa

Abuja, September 9, 2021 – The ECOWAS Commission through the Directorate of Free Movement of the Department of Trade, Customs and Free Movement organized a one (1) day virtual Needs Assessment meeting for Women in Development.

The meeting was convened to identify areas of intervention, Gaps, Challenges and Needs of women in development (WID) networks for Regional support under the Framework of the ECOWAS Regional Cross Border Cooperation Support Programme (ECBCSP) 2021-2025 and the ECOWAS Cross-Border Cooperation and Free Movement and Migration (CBC-FMM) Fund recently adopted by ECOWAS Ministers in Charge of Cross-Border Cooperation and endorsed by ECOWAS Council of Ministers at its meeting of January 2021. ECBCSP is a multi-sectoral development Programme which aims to Strengthen Cooperation amongst Populations, States and Markets to accelerate and deepen Regional Integration from below.

It works with local communities in border regions to ensure social cohesion, regional construction and sustainable development. It supports Joint Socio-economic development Initiatives and mainstreams Gender in its actions. The Regional meeting had in attendance over 73 participants drawn from across the ECOWAS Member States and representatives of the ECOWAS Commission.

In his opening speech, Mr Tei Konzi, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement extended warm welcome to all participants at the all-important meeting and commended all Actors for efforts to advance the regional integration agenda of ECOWAS. He reminded all that part of the objectives of ECBCSP include strengthening cross-border cooperation and consolidation of peace, stability and development and supporting implementation of economic-driven local community projects. He stated that this assessment meeting was organized to identify and document needs of women in Cross-Border Regions in order to inform support in the implementation of Gender development projects across Borders.

Madame Bolanle Adetoun, Director, ECOWAS Gender Development Centre, in her re-mark, expressed her pleasure at the huge turn out and participation of National and Local Actors at the virtual meeting aimed at strengthening support to Women in development. She said it is no gain-saying that support is needed for women in development ac-tions especially in the area of Trade and Free Movement for sustainable development and mentions that in the area of cross-border trade in the region, about 70% of the volume are done by women making them a critical factor in development discourse and action. She opined that the cross-border trading done by women provides livelihood for a lot of families in border communities and strong efforts should be made to support such Cross-Border Cooperation development initiatives to promote regional integration especially through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative. She noted that addressing challenges and constraints faced by women traders in border communities will also go a long way in promoting economic stability and development in ECO-WAS.

The meeting elicited interesting exchanges on local interventions and needs of women in development across Borders and ended with joint decisions and recommendations that will serve as a basis for identifying and providing Support to Women development Projects in ECOWAS Cross-border Zones.

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