IWD: West Africa Has Highest Rate Of Maternal Mortality, Low Girl-Child Education-Wife Of ECOWAS President

By Bukar Bolori

Wife of President of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), Mrs Jacqueline Brou has lamented the prevalence of high maternal mortality rate in West Africa.

She equally lamented the low levels of female education, violence against women, early marriage and female genital mutilation in the region.

Speaking in Abuja at an occasion to commemorate the International Women’s Day, IWD, Brou said the West African region is still bedeviled with the highest rate of maternal mortality, low levels of female education, violence against them, early marriage and female genital mutilation.

Brou, speaking under the theme defined by the United Nations: “equality today for a sustainable future” and the campaign themed: “BreakThe Barriers”, disclosed that because of the situation in West Africa, the commission would be taking steps to ensure that the ECOWAS Vision 2050 development process reflects and is inclusive by actively involving women and youth in the design and implementation of all ECOWAS development programmes and projects.

She notedthat the commission is duty bound to fight job segregation and break down prejudices through the provision of more employment opportunities for women and young people.

Brou advised the ECOWAS Amazons to remain steadfast, working in unity to achieve the goals of the commission which would put Africa in the right grounds.

She said: “Although International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8, our celebration should not be limited to just a calendar date. Women, the pillar of any society, should be celebrated every day for their bravery, their fights, their social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

“Indeed, International Women’s Day not only provides a useful opportunity to remember that every individual has a role to play in building a more gender-balanced world, but the day is also a call to action to accelerate gender parity by challenging gender stereotypes while forging a more progressive mindset and inclusive behavior.

“The celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day 2022, under the theme defined by the United Nations “equality today for a sustainable future” and the campaign theme “BriserLesBarrières / BreakThe Barriers” must lead us to become aware of the considerable impact of prejudices on gender equality, whether conscious or unconscious. We must recognize it and denounce it. Therefore, we must break the chains of prejudices that have entangled and conditioned our lives, such as prejudices related to gender, religion, nationality, age, geography, culture… And the list goes on. These biases distort thinking, influence beliefs and undermine the development and empowerment of West African women.

She decried that: “Despite the progress made by most West African countries in terms of women’s participation in the economic and social sectors, policy-making and leadership, the region still has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality, low levels of female education, violence against them, early marriage and female genital mutilation. These factors play a major role in hindering the progress of women in the region”.

She said: “It is in this context that the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have declared zero tolerance towards sexual and gender-based violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in the ECOWAS region. This commitment has materialized through the adoption of a number of instruments and mechanisms by various ECOWAS entities, including the ECOWAS Gender Policy, the Gender Strategic Plan Framework, the gender, youth and childhood policies, and the Supplementary Act on equal rights between women and men for sustainable development in the ECOWAS region.

“The Commission has also taken steps to ensure that the ECOWAS Vision 2050 development process is participatory and inclusive by actively involving women and youth in the design and implementation of all ECOWAS development programs and projects.

“In addition, the Commission is committed to fighting job segregation and breaking down prejudices by providing more employment opportunities for women and young people. I dare to hope that with these important steps, we will continue to realize “The ECOWAS of the People: Peace and Prosperity for All.”

She however said: “On a personal note, I would like to express my appreciation and the opportunity to share with you these fantastic moments as part of the celebration of International Women’s Day. I gradually realized how lucky I have been for the past four years. I can proudly say that you are all like family to me and I thank you for your precious and inexhaustible trust in me. None of us has accomplished anything in isolation and the great successes and milestones of the Amazons have been the result of our mutual respect, collaboration and cooperation.”

She charged: “Amazons, never forget that you are the pride of ECOWAS, our common institution. Do not allow any prejudice to alter your vision, and trust me, I will be your advocate alongside my dear husband for even more women Commissioners, more women Directors and Heads of Division, more women in all positions. You can count on me.

“On a personal note, I would like to express my appreciation and the opportunity to share with you these fantastic moments as part of the celebration of International Women’s Day. I gradually realized how lucky I have been for the past four years. I can proudly say that you are all like family to me and I thank you for your precious and inexhaustible trust in me. None of us has accomplished anything in isolation and the great successes and milestones of the Amazons have been the result of our mutual respect, collaboration and cooperation.

“Amazons, never forget that you are the pride of ECOWAS, our common institution. Do not allow any prejudice to alter your vision, and trust me, I will be your advocate alongside my dear husband for even more women Commissioners, more women Directors and Heads of Division, more women in all positions. You can count on me.”

In the spirit of celebration of the IWD, the ECOWAS Women’s Forum (ECOCOM Amazon), visited the Maternity Ward of Asokoro General Hospital, where they
doled out maternal equipment and kits worth US$3,500.

During the visit to the maternity ward of the hospital, Mrs. Brou, who is the matron of the ECOWAS Amazon, stated that the material donated on behalf of ECOWAS women falls within the framework of the celebration of the international women’s day.

Brou said coming from a medical family, she feels excited and committed to donate such equipment to the hospital, promising that the intention of the commission is to continue carrying out charity programs in the hospital due to the proximity of the hospital to the ECOWAS Secretariat.

Commending the commission for their kind gestures, the Medical Director of Asokoro General Hospital, Uche Afioma, said that the commission had shown practical support for women.

She said: “This donation from the ECOWAS commissioners wife, Mrs. Jacqueline Brou we are very grateful on behalf of Asokoro district hospital and we thank her for the kind gesture and the entire AMAZONS, the team that has supported warmly in order to make these donations. We say thank you. They will be useful for upliftment of maternal and child health care in Nigeria and in the FCT as a whole. And we also hope that God will continue to bless them and replenish the purse.”

Also speaking, Dr. Olanrewaju Micheal, Head of Department & Consultant, O&G, thanked the ECOCOM Amazon for the donation, stating that the donations came at a good time.

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