On March 23rd, 2011 women from across West Africa including Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo gathered outside the headquarters of ECOWAS to demand, with one voice, the immediate cessation of the human rights abuse against peaceful political protestors in Cote d'Ivoire. This West African women's march held under the theme "Thousand Women March in Solidarity with the Women of Cote d'Ivoire," was organised by various civil society and women groups in West Africa namely; The Women Peace and Security Network-Africa (WiPSEN-Africa), West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), and West African Women Association (WAWA). The march was organised to coincide with the 39th Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to put pressure on ECOWAS, leaders of West African countries, the AU and other international actors to seek a peaceful resolution of the political upheaval in Cote d'Ivoire and bring to justice perpetrators of violence against ordinary citizens in the country.
The protestors held three major activities to get their message across:
pre-march consultative meeting with various West African women groups which resulted in a press release,
peaceful march outside the ECOWAS Headquarters on the 23rd of March 2011 and,
presentation of the West African Women Position Statement Against the Killing of Women, Children and Other Civilians in Cote d'Ivoire at the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government summit. At the peaceful march, the protestors wore t-shirts and held banners that reinforced their message to ECOWAS and the rest of the world to stop the human rights abuse and enforce peace in Cote d'Ivoire.
They shouted slogans that galvanised the protest:
"Prioritize Human Life and Security above Political Agendas in Côte d'Ivoire"
"Investigate the Political Violence and Killing Of Peaceful Women Protesters"
"Stop Using Violence and Killing to Silence Ordinary Citizens in Côte D'Ivoire"
"Civil Society Demands Political Leaders to Commit To Peaceful Resolution of Electoral Disputes in West Africa"
"ECOWAS! Speak With One Voice, Act as One Body"
Representatives of the protestors were given 5 minutes to present their position statement at the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government summit. Their statement highlighted the profound concern of West African women over the escalating violence in Cote d'Ivoire and called on the ECOWAS to commit fully to its agenda of steering the sub-region towards peace and democracy.