Niamey, 5 October 2017. First Ladies of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have affirmed their resolve to eliminate obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation, as well as gender-, female- and youth-based violence.
The commitment was made at the end of their forum held in Niamey, Niger on 5 October 2017.
In order to eliminate obstetric fistula in West Africa, they decided to support the installation of equipment for fistula treatment, as well as allocate adequate financial resources to create awareness and support the economic and social reintegration of fistula survivors into their local community.
“Obstetric Fistula is an issue of great concern which requires our joint efforts and continued action in the priority sectors” stated the Togolese Head of State and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority, Faure Gnassingbe, in the presence of his Nigerien counterpart and host, Mahamadou Issoufou.
He emphasised the urgent need to address the various issues raised in Niamey which border on human dignity.
On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza, pointed out that the Community still has one of the highest number of cases of women living with obstetric fistula, about 100,000 cases a year.
He therefore appealed to the first ladies as well the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, to ensure obstetric fistula is eliminated and child rights are protected, particularly in the light of child-witch phenomenon, which, he said, affects several West African countries.
Regarding child protection, the ECOWAS first ladies agreed to read the Declaration proposed by the ministerial meeting on child protection at their next forum scheduled for 14 to 18 October 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
They commended the adoption by the ECOWAS Ministers, of the regional organisation’s Strategic framework for reinforcing child protection systems, thus enabling it to address and prevent violence, abuse and exploitation on the one hand and support implementation, on the other hand.
ECOWAS Member States were also urged to take concrete and effective measures by 2020, to eliminate female genital mutilation through prevention, punishment and compensation for damages. In that respect, a Declaration was read by the first lady of Burkina Faso, Mrs Sika Kaboré.
They also urged West African leaders to allocate more resources to the implementation of action plans on child protection, elimination of female genital mutilation and obstetric fistula.