ABUJA – (ECOWAS Secretariat Report) – A two-day technical meeting on the Operationalization of the Child Protection Framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was opened recently in Abuja, Nigeria.
The meeting was meant to examine the ways to popularise the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems to prevent and respond to violence, abuse as well as exploitation against children in West Africa.
In her opening remarks at the event, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director for Gender, Sintiki Ugbe (Dr) represented by the Principal Programme Officer for Gender and Child, Bolanle Adetoun (Dr) noted that as a cross-cutting issue, child protection also has human rights connections with corresponding implications for the physical, social and mental development of the child.
She maintained that child protection response must necessarily percolate to all segments of the society, beginning from the family to local and community groups, faith-based organisations, among others. This she stressed is in addition to the involvement of governments at the local, national, regional and global levels.
“Children are our heritage and future. We need to address their issues for posterity and the effective functioning of society. Child rights are indeed our future and all hands should be on deck to safeguard the future,” she added.
“Apart from helping to achieve buy-ins to the framework by different partners, the meeting was also called to devise means of sensitising participants on the content and context of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework. Broadly, the framework seeks to strengthen National Child Protection Systems, encourage mainstreaming of child protection into all relevant programmes carried out in the Member States; build synergy and promote collaboration in all child protection-related activities within the ECOWAS Commission and Community.”
The meeting featured an overview of a workable strategy towards attaining desirable goals as well as presentation by the Principal Programme Officer for Gender and Child, Bolanle Adetoun on the strengthening of child protection systems across the region to prevent and respond to risks and vulnerabilities facing children.
Among the issues examined at the meeting was the sensitisation of communities, particularly with regards to the divergence of opinions on what constitute child abuse and underage marriage owing to differences in cultural settings. The partners who participated at the meeting included: UN Women, Plan International and Save the Children. The Strategic Framework on child Protection was approved by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 2017.