The ECOWAS Commission and the Regional Child Protection Working Group (RCPWG) on 20th April, 2020 issued a joint Advisory to ALL ECOWAS member states as call for action and guidance to mainstream Child Protection in Government responses to COVID-19 Pandemic and Recovery Plans.
Following the Advisory, a virtual meeting of Working Group’s membership was drawn from the ranks of UN Agencies, other Development Partners, INGOs, CSOs and other Non-State Actors including the Private Sector and the Media with the participation of relevant ECOWAS Directorates and Institutions held on the 12th of October, 2020, aimed at galvanizing action across the ECOWAS Region towards curbing the menacing challenge of Gender Based Violence with a special focus on Child Sexual Abuse and Violence Against Children.
In her opening speech, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, acknowledged that despite many legal, policy frameworks and documents adopted at the international, continental, regional and national levels and the advances that have been made in reporting and documentation, GBV/VAC continues to be widespread and present in all Member States, in familiar and new forms.
Commissioner Jagne also reiterated the fact that it is evident in any emergency situation that the vulnerabilities of women and girls have increased with the outbreak and management of the COVID-19 pandemic; from inability to access services due to movement and access restrictions and diversion of resources to COVID-19 interventions.
The ECOWAS Commission in line with the joint Advisory, recommends that the Member States take immediate action to ensure the continued functioning of child-friendly reporting mechanisms such as Child Helpline and Hotlines to enable child friendly reporting, counselling, and response.