In light of the increasing crises, including military coups and insecurity in the West African subregion, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has emphasized the importance of promoting the participation of vulnerable and marginalized groups in decision-making processes and democratic affairs within societies.
During the delocalized meeting of the Joint Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament on Political Affairs, Peace, Security, and the African Peer Review Mechanism, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and the Committee on Social Affairs, Gender, and Women Empowerment in Monrovia, Liberia, Speaker Hon. Sidie Mohammed Tunis underscored the significance of supporting these groups to ensure sustained peace, security, and development in the region.
Hon. Tunis acknowledged that each parliamentary meeting presents an opportunity to analyze and propose measures to better understand and manage political, economic, and social developments in West Africa.
ECOWAS Vision 2050 aims to promote good governance and consolidate lasting peace, security, and development in the region. Speaker Tunis acknowledged that inequality has been a contributing factor to subversive acts in the region, making it imperative to address political inclusivity for vulnerable groups.
Vice President of Liberia, Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor, highlighted the ongoing disparity in political inclusivity, particularly concerning women’s representation. She cited a January 2023 UN Women Facts and Figures report, which indicated that women are still underrepresented in political offices, both continentally and globally.
Inclusive political processes play a critical role in sustaining peace and preventing conflicts. It also enhances citizen participation and political influence, promotes government accountability and transparency, and strengthens the social contract between the government and its people, providing greater access to opportunities.
Dr. Taylor noted that despite efforts to promote gender equality in the past three decades, the ECOWAS Parliament’s representation of women falls short of the acceptable standard, with only 18.26% of the current 115 members being female.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, echoed the significance of bridging the gap between the government and citizens to address threats to democracy and enhance stability in the sub-region. He emphasized the role of civic engagements in building a more inclusive society.
The ECOWAS Parliament calls on all stakeholders to work towards meaningful inclusion of vulnerable groups in decision-making processes, as this will not only promote democracy but also contribute to long-term peace and development in the West African region.