The President of ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA), Stella Oduah has said that women hold the key to development of West Africa.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing second ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Monday, Oduah who represents Anambra North in the National Assembly, said that women constituted the larger population in the sub-region and could not be left aside in developmental moves.
Oduah, who chairs the Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration, regretted that participation of women in the politics of West Africa was still very low and needed to change.
She stressed that women were capable of contesting and holding any political office in the sub-region, adding that women should not play second fiddle but must rise up to the occasion and participate in politics to developing Africa.
The ECOFEPA President stressed that it did not make sense to disrespect or disregard women who constituted about 60 percent of the population of the sub-region.
“West Africa cannot attain its intended developmental strides without the involvement and participation of women in politics and policy making and implementation. You lose their strength, their brilliance, their contributions and you lose their participation.
“If the women who make up more than half of our population do not participate in developing West Africa, it means that we are using less half of our strength.
“Women do not have to beg to be allowed to participate, we constitute the larger population. We must participate because governance belongs to the people not to a particular gender,” she said.
The ECOFEPA President disclosed that the association was set to build a School for Women Leadership Training in Abuja.
She added that ECOFEPA was currently collaborating with other international agencies to anchor national and community development for women.