The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has launched a new initiative to empower women in border communities across the region.
The initiative, called the Cross-Border Women in Development Networks (WID), aims to assess the needs of women in border communities and identify potential areas of intervention.
A meeting was held in Accra, Ghana, from 14 to 18 August 2023 to bring together representatives of women’s groups from Benin, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria.
The meeting was opened by Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng, the Director of Free Movement of Persons and Migration at the ECOWAS Commission. He stressed the importance of assessing the needs of women in development and exploring possible areas of intervention.
He also highlighted the ECOWAS financial grant offered to the WID Networks, which Member States can access to enhance women’s capabilities and provide support for small and medium-scale enterprises.
“The ECOWAS Commission and the Directorate of Free Movement of Persons and Migration remain committed to fostering regional integration and socioeconomic development within the region,” Mr. Siaw-Boateng said. “Initiatives like the WID Networks in border communities play a vital role in advancing these objectives.”
The meeting endorsed several projects to address the needs of women in border communities and ease mobility in the region. These projects include:
- A cross-border empowerment and transit centre for women in Grand-Popo, Benin
- An ECOWAS cross-border “on the border rest stop” for women in Ghana
- A women’s transitional shelter in Guinea-Bissau
- An ECBCSP-Cross-Border Women Hub in Nigeria
The WID Initiative is part of ECOWAS’s efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region. It is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.
The meeting in Accra was a significant step towards the implementation of the WID Initiative. It brought together key stakeholders and identified priority areas for intervention. The next steps will be to develop and implement specific projects to address the needs of women in border communities.