ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender
Political Leaders
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Fatimata Dia Sow was the only woman appointed as part of the expanded group of commissioners for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in February 2014. Sow is a recognised public policy professional and expert on gender issues, agriculture and research. During her time at the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), she was the head of the mixed farming and livestock production systems unit from 1999 to 2010. She co-ordinated activities related to gender and decentralised financial systems of the information and communications technology cell at the National Laboratory for Livestock and Veterinary Research from 2002 to 2005. While occupying the latter position, Fatimata Sow was the executive secretary of the Senegalese chapter of the Association for Women’s Leadership in Agriculture and Environment (AWLAE). She is also a member of other international gender-focused and development groups such as the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) and the Association for Women Rights in Development (AWID). From 2010, Sow’s career path took a more international and regional route. She has worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as part of a teamwork group and was also a lecturer and director of the gender and economy programme at the Institute of Economic Development and Planning, which was part of the Gender and Economic Management Policy Initiative–Africa (GEMPI-Africa). Born in Senegal in 1967, Dr Fatimata Sow holds two doctorates -- the first in veterinary medicine and sciences from the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal and the second one in agricultural economics and gender from Wageningen University in The Netherlands. She also holds two other post-graduate degrees -- one in feminist development economics from the Hague Institute of Social Sciences and another specialised degree in agricultural economics and rural politics from the Louvain la Neuve University in Belgium where she graduated with a distinction. Since her appointment, Sow has been an advocate of the ECOWAS policies on gender and social issues. More recently, in an ECOWAS strategic review meeting on the gender and elections framework and action plan, she recalled that women have “continued to be seriously under-represented as candidates for public office,” and have been systematically and culturally disadvantaged and therefore need to be part of the whole process, “not just as voters, but also as development agents.”