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ECOWAS holds its 4th Online Engagement with the Regional Working Group against GBV/VAC

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The ECOWAS Commission’s Department of Social Affairs and Gender ended a two (2) day meeting for the Fourth (4th) online engagement with the ECOWAS Regional Partners/CSOs/NSAs Working Group against Gender-Based Violence/Violence against Children (ECW-RPWG-GBV/VAC), on Thursday, 21st October 2021.

The online engagement was under the theme: “Girlforce: Unscripted and Unstoppable” The meeting came on the heels of the just-concluded Regional Meeting of Gender Experts in Dakar and in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, which was celebrated worldwide on the 11th of October, 2021.

The 4th Engagement discussed emerging issues such as weak coordination amongst key stakeholders and poor implementation of legal frameworks, combined with entrenched gender discriminatory norms, which have hampered National Governments, Partners, and other key actors’ efforts to address Gender-Based Violence/Violence Against Children issues. These issues have been further made glaring by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Sintiki Tarfa-Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, who was represented by Hajiya Raheemat Momodu, Head, Human Security and Civil Society Division, emphasized the need for all hands to be on board to fight the dangerous menace of GBV/VAC which had spiked within the COVID-19 pandemic. Hajiya Momodu informed the meeting of the just concluded Gender Experts Meeting held in Dakar, Senegal; while stressing the need for coordination in the process of multisectoral approach and intersectoral coordination amongst various Institutions, Agencies, and Organisations involved in the fight against GBV/VAC.

Hajiya Momodu reiterated that the Protection Mandate of the Human Security and Civil Society (HSCS) Division, cuts across all Programmes of the Division, namely: Social Dimension of Counter Human Trafficking, Child Rights/ Protection and Child Labour, Women Peace and Security, and Emergency Protection. She gave a detailed update on the Division’s successful implementation of the Human Security Integrated missions to The Gambia and Sierra Leone and that the implementation of similar missions to Burkina Faso, Togo, and Nigeria before the end of the year was at an advanced stage.

Ms. Mariétou Dia, ICRC, Regional Sexual Violence Advisor, presented a comprehensive ICRC’s Framework and Strategy in addressing Sexual Violence in Conflicts and in non-conflict situations. According to her, these include the need for medical and psychological care within 72 hours for all victims; security measures linked to the safety of individuals in the environment they reside; as well as guidance on risk awareness and risk reduction as essential components of the Response Strategy.

Ms. Dia emphasized that the “Do No Harm” approach of the ICRC keeps the victims’ well-being and dignity at the core of its work. According to her, all ICRC’s working modalities are derived from this approach.

 The Approach ensures well-coordinated and multidisciplinary responses that prevent re-traumatizing victims by exposing them to multiple interviews with different service providers while addressing a range of their needs. Also to avoid stigmatization or labeling of victims, the ICRC provides responses to sexual violence (e.g. Health, Economic Security) within a broader approach that addresses the needs of victims of all types of violence.

Towards effective operationalization of the Working Group, a draft Operating Procedures for the Group was also presented by the Head, Human Security, and Civil Society Division, ECOWAS Commission. Participants were encouraged to study the draft Document and send in their feedback to the Secretariat of the Working Group within two weeks.  

The meeting ended with an agreement to work towards greater coordination in the enhancement of collective capacities for prevention and response to GBV/VAC. 

In addition, ECOWAS Commission reiterated its commitment to continue to provide strategic direction and coordinate the implementation of actions of Partners, INGOs, CSOs, and other stakeholders in promoting and mainstreaming protection and human security approaches in Member States National Development Plans and Actions to address GBV/VAC.

Participants at the meeting were from ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies, Office of the Nigeria Permanent Representative to the ECOWAS, Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, UN Agencies, INGOs, FEWACCI, Regional and National CSO Networks, and other Non- State Actors.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/ecowas-engages-with-regional-working-group-agbv-and-violence-against-children/

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