STATEMENT ISSUED BY A COALITION OF WOMEN IN PACFaH@SCALE PROJECT DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE ON SUNDAY MARCH 8, TO COMMEMORATE THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY IN ABUJA
I welcome you to this press conference organized by Women in the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH@Scale) to mark the 2020 International Women’s Day which is commemorated every 8th of March worldwide.
Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights, and are fundamental to women’s autonomy and well-being. Maternal mortality, adolescent pregnancy and access to sexual and reproductive health are some of the important aspects of women’s health that have an impact on development.
This press conference is to mark 2020 International Women’s Day including a reflection on the progress and barriers towards the attainment of gender equality in Nigeria.
We commend the Federal, the States, and Local governments in the country for investing in the health sector despite the competing challenges for resources from other sectors.
Having said this, let me say that women in PACFaH@Scale, are calling on the three tiers of government to fund, implement and ensure accountability of programs to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) – Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. This is an important goal for us to achieve.
Nigerian government has the duty to fulfill women’s rights pledges, and provide all women with accessible, affordable, good quality sexual and reproductive health care and services.
According to research,
- 6.9 percent of Nigerian women of reproductive age (15-49) are acutely malnourished and 3.8 percent as severely malnourished (2018 NNHS).
- In Nigeria, the maternal mortality ratio for 7 years period before the 2018 NDHS is estimated at 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
- More than half of women population (52%) report at least one problem accessing health care for themselves (2018 NDHS).
To meet women’s health care needs, barriers to achieving gender equality should be addressed. Some of the barriers to inequality in women’s health include; lack of women’s education, illiteracy, lack of mentorship of younger generation, harmful traditional practices, early marriage, gender-based violence, and negligence of women with special needs. Women have poor representation in leadership positions in government including health boards (Health management boards, primary health care boards etc).
The Women in PACFaH@Scale believe that if these barriers are removed by fully funding, implementing and ensuring accountability, every Nigerian woman will have access to affordable and qualitative health care.
Call to action
- All the tiers of government in Nigeria should fund, strengthen and ensure accountability of the National and State Primary Health Care Boards.
- The government should ensure provision of minimum service package in all primary health care centers.
- The government at all levels should provide emergency transportation to pregnant women and newborns in need and provide funds for operational cost. As well as collaborate with relevant organizations such as NURTW.
- National assembly should pass laws on the 35% affirmative action for women involvement and inclusion in governance.
- The government should also provide training to all skilled birth attendants on essential newborn care and provide appropriate equipment.
- Community leaders, gate keepers, traditional and religious leaders, and other well-meaning Nigerians should promote voluntary blood donation to assist women in need.
- All state governments should enforce that women are given 6 months maternity leave, with full pay.
We believe that women’s health in Nigeria will improve if all the tiers of government have the political will to implement recommendations proposed by the women.
While thanking you ladies and gentlemen of the press for your commitments towards building a better Nigeria, we call on you to continue to contribute your quota in ensuring that you hold governments accountable especially in fulfilling women rights pledges, thereby promoting gender equality.
I thank you very much for having time to come here today.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the following contributors;
- Dr. Minnie Oseji, National President Medical Women Association of Nigeria
- Dr. Rahila Mukhtar, President-elect Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Kano State. (MWAN-PAS)
- Halima Ben Umar, Women in Media Communication Initiative (WIM -PAS)
- Comrade Lawal-Aiyedun Olubunmi, National Association of Nigeria Pediatric Nurses (NANPAN)
- Hafsat Mohammed Baba, Global Initiative for Women & Children (GIWAC-PAS)
- Kulu Abdullahi, FOMWAN-PAS
For:Women in PACFaH@Scale
Dr. Gloria Larabai Shoda, mni
National Council for Women Societies (NCWS)