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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consists of 15 countries who has as main aim to promote economic integration in "all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters"[i]. ECOWAS has four main entities: The Commission; The Parliament; The Community Court of Justice; and The ECOWAS Bank of Investment and Development. The Commission and the Bank for Investment and Development has the purpose of implementing policies, pursuing programmes and carry out development projects in its Member States.

Gender and Women within the ECOWAS Treaty

The ECOWAS treaty is the main document of the Community. The treaty mentions women at nine instances, while gender is not mentioned at all.

ECOWAS Gender Development Centre

ECOWAS has eight specialised agencies where one is the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC). EGDC’s main role within ECOWAS is to “to establish, develop, facilitate, coordinate and follow up the strategies and programmes aimed at ensuring that matters related to the disparities between men and women in the integration programmes of the Community as well as women promotion are incorporated within the framework of objectives of the ECOWAS Treaty”[ii]. This agency is one response to the increased attention that ECOWAS has put on equal opportunities between women and men.[iii] ECOWAS has furthermore stated that it sees women’s economic empowerment as key to development and is therefore working with gender mainstreaming in its frameworks and initiatives.[iv] There is no information available on the persons in the various positions within the EGDC.

Notable

In the Programmes of the department - Gender Development Programme the current activities that are listed are for 2008[v]

Summary[vi] of all four ECOWAS entities

Total

Title

Ratio Women

Ratio Male

0

President

0 of 3

3 of 3

3

Chairman

3 of 14

11 of 14

3

Commissioner

3 of 13

10 of 13

0

Vice-Chairman/Vice-President

1 of 14

14 of 14

3

Director[vii]

3 of 21

18 of 21

The Commission

Office 

Position 

Female 

Male 

Commission

Chairman


X


Executive Secretary


X


President of the commission


X


Vice President


X

Office of the commissioner and finance

Commissioner

X



Administration & General Services Directorate

X



Human Resources Directorate


X


Conference Directorate


X


Finance Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner agriculture, environment and water resources

Commissioner


X


Agricultural Development Directorate


X


Environmental & Water Resources Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner Human Development & Gender

Commissioner

X



Education, Culture, Science & Technology Directorate


X


Gender, Youth, CSO, Employment, Drug Control Directory

X



Humanitarian & Social Affairs Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner Infrastructure

Commissioner


X


Transport & Telecommunication Directorate


X


Energy Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner macro-economic policy

Commissioner


X


Private Sector Directorate


X


Research and Statistics Directorate


X


Multilateral Surveillance Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner political affairs, peace & security (PAPS)

Commissioner

X



Political Affairs Directorate


X


Early Warning / Observation Monitoring Centre

X



Peace Keeping & Security Directorate


X

Office of the commissioner trade, customs, industry & free movement

Commissioner


X


Trade Directorate


X


Free Movement of Persons Directorate


X


Industry & Mines Directorate


X


Customs & Tourism Directorate


X

TOTAL

36 positions

(7 Commissioners)

6 Female

30 Male

The Parliament

Office 

Position 

Female 

Male 


Speaker


X

Committee on agriculture, environment, water resources and rural development

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on education, science & technology, youth, sports & culture

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on gender, employment, labor & social welfare

Chairman

X



Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on infrastructure & industrial development

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on political affairs, peace & security

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on trade, customs & free movement of persons

Chairman

X



Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on legal & judicial affairs

Chairman

X



Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on communication & information technology

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on economic policies

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on administration, finance, and budget control

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on NEPAD & the African Peer review mechanism

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on health & social services

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

Committee on human rights & child protection

Chairman


X


Vice-Chairman


X

TOTAL

27 (Including Speaker for the Parliament)

3 Female

24 Male

The Community Court of Justice

Position 

Female 

Male 

President

X


Vice-President


X

Dean

X


TOTAL

2

1

The Community Court of Justice has in total 7 judges (including the President, Vice-president and Dean) out of these three are women.

The ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development 

Position

Female

Male

President


X

TOTAL


1

Conclusion and Reflections

ECOWAS has an outspoken aim to integrate gender issues in all its frameworks and initiatives and in order to enforce this aim has established the EGDC, all the while the number of women in senior positions within ECOWAS does not reflect this aim. Within the Commission women hold only six (6) out of 36 available seats in leadership and senior roles. However, out of seven (7) Commissioners three (3) are women, which is a good result. In the Parliament the 27 available senior positions (Speaker, Chairman and Vice-chairman) only three (3) are held by women, notable is that these three are Chairmen. In the Community Court of Justice women enjoy two (2) out of the three (3) senior positions. Finally, in the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development the President is a man.

All in all, it can be concluded that, although there are positive figures to be found - the Commission and the Community Court of Justice - ECOWAS does not at present live up to its outspoken aim of gender mainstreaming in all its frameworks and initiatives. The establishment of EGDC is a positive step forward but the results of the centres work yet to be seen and implemented in the ECOWAS structure.





[vi] The Executive Secretary of the Commission and the Dean of the Community Court of Justice is not presented in the Summary; Please refer to the tables for the specific entities for the statistics on these two posts.

[vii] The leaders of the directorates are here called Director

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