"Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change"
The celebration of International Women's Day, on 8 March every year, affords us the opportunity to emphasize the important place and role of women in economic and social development throughout the world and particularly in our sub-region.
The 2019 theme, "Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change", is part of this tradition. It also reaffirms the ECOWAS Commission's commitment to pursue its day-to-day efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of West African women, both economically and socially.
In this regard, I would like to recall that our interventions on gender reflect our strong belief that young people and women, by virtue of their numbers and outstanding qualities, are an essential driving force for our regional integration.
The ongoing reforms in ECOWAS Member States aim, in particular, to strengthen the foundations of gender equality through a gender-sensitive legal framework strongly imbued with the values of progress, freedom, solidarity, peace and the well-being of our communities. This will also apply to future reforms.
The theme of this year's International Women's Day reminds us that we must continue to think right and think equality, but also to translate our lofty ideas into concrete actions, in order to uphold the values that underpin our regional integration and, at the same time, strive to embrace change through innovation.
This is further illustrated by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, the African Union's Agenda 2063 and ECOWAS' VISION 2020. These fundamental texts challenge us as citizens, decision-makers and partners, to ensure that, in our march towards progress and well-being, no one is left behind.
We must therefore continue to provide opportunities for women in the area of training, access to productive and decent employment and social protection. We should also endeavour to facilitate women's access to credit and banking services, property and inheritance, including access to natural resources, health and education. We also need to continue to pay attention to the development of gender-sensitive infrastructure.
ECOWAS is, more than ever, committed to fully play its role as set out by the theme of this year's International Women's Day. In the same vein, it invites all stakeholders to work in synergy to accelerate the achievement of the desired social and economic transformation, in line with its VISION 2020, the Beijing Platform for Action and Resolution 1325.
On behalf of ECOWAS, I make this appeal with the certainty that, in view of the crucial role women play in development and given that they make up a significant majority of the population, we, more than ever, need to adopt policies that take due account of their concerns. These policies should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders.
IN THE LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, I WISH ALL WOMEN IN ECOWAS INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY.