Women from across West Africa on Wednesday pleaded with Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to double their efforts in restoring peace to Cote D'Ivoire immediately. The women in their solidarity statement told the ECOWAS leaders, few minutes after the opening session of the 39th Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria that the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone have taught them valuable lessons that wars in all countries affect them.
The women, through their spokesperson, Salimata Parquet of Cote D'Ivoire stated that they can no longer sit supinely and allow their brothers and sisters to keep dying because they fear that what is unfolding in Cote D'Ivoire is a reminder of the dark days in the region that can never allow a return.
Wearing white T-Shirts portraying the flags of each West African State in the front, with inscriptions at the back “West African Women Demand Peace in Cote D'Ivoire,” the women expressed fears that the killing of seven women in Abidjan on March 3, 2011 in broad daylight illustrates that the conflict is getting desperate and it is to intensify their efforts in bringing it to a conclusion.
They observed that the region has suffered too long and as such, its potential should not continue to be truncated by wars. The West African Women also observed that the crises in other parts of the world have gradually overshadowed the problems in Cote D'Ivoire, “therefore, it lies on our leaders and people of West Africa to seek a peaceful end to the current situation,” the spokesperson emphasized.
They further called on the ECOWAS leaders to remain fully engaged on Cote D'Ivoire since the stakes are clearly high, the causalities are increasing and the eventual outcomes might have regional consequences.
The Women pleaded with the ECOWAS leaders to urge all parties in the conflict to prioritize human life and security above political agendas and mandates, since they believe that it would be in line with the ECOWAS vision of moving from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People, where the citizens in the region would have peace, security, freedom of movement and expression.
The West African Women insisted that the ECOWAS leaders remember the 7 Ivorians and other victims of this conflict in their closed-door discussions and that want to also join the leaders' efforts by organizing a women-led mediation mission in support of ECOWAS to bring peace back to Cote D'Ivoire.
Following their statement, the Chairman of ECOWAS, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan commended the women for the bold step they took in sharing their concerns for the escalating situation in Cote D'Ivoire. He assured them that the leaders will study the matter that has been presented to them during their discussions.