By Raphael Oni
As part of practical tools for continuous gender mainstreaming, The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Guidelines of the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) of the ECOWAS Commission were unveiled in Abuja, Nigeria.
The guidelines are billed to facilitate the advancement of women’s rights and their inclusion in conflict prevention and peace building processes. They are also meant to leverage relevant tools and legal frameworks having regards to international best practices in peace and security.
In his opening statement at the Launch, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for PAPS General Francis Behanzin disclosed that the guidelines provide tips on how each PAPS Division, the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) and Early Warning Directorate can incorporate gender perspectives, promote inclusivity and institutionalize gender parity in their work, thereby making it easier for ECOWAS staff to adopt a gender perspective at all stages of peace and security processes.
He expressed profound gratitude to the project partners-Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) and the Swedish Government for giving ECOWAS the necessary support to develop the Guidelines and translate it into the three ECOWAS official languages.
The Sweden’s partnership with ECOWAS has contributed to the creation of many gender champions in the PAPS Department, the Commissioner hoped that with the coming on board of the Guidelines, the inclusion of women would be institutionalized in all ECOWAS peace and security processes.
Paying tributes to gallant men and woman of the Armed Forces, for their enormous sacrifices in the defence of the ECOWAS region, the Nigerian Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen disclosed that her country’s government is pleased to identify with the launch of the PAPS Guidelines considered as a watershed in the advocacy on the different impact of armed conflict on women and men, while demanding for the protection of women and girls during armed conflicts and post conflict situations.
The Guidelines were presented by project consultant Dr. Ibrahim Bangura at a session choreographed by the Commission’s Commissioner for Finance Mrs. Halima Ahmed. Good will messages were also delivered by Partners and dignitaries including HE Carl-Michael Gran (Swidish Ambassador to Nigeria) Mr. Christian Voelkel (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Ambassador Bankole Adeoye (African Union Commissioner for political Affairs, Peace and Security), Ms Giovanie Biha (UNOWAS), Mr. Sven-Eric Soder (FBA), (Fionar Lortan (UN Women) and Ms Sara Lindvall, promting a big closing cheer by the Commission’s Director of Political Affairs Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa.
Beamed from vast distances via teleconferencing, their messages, (mindful of the UN Resolution 1325), underscored the need for alignment of the ECOWAS peace and security projects with the continental and global best practices while referencing the huge work to be done in order to prevent the incessant undermining of women’s rights and roles within the context of peace and seciurity.