… Wake Up Women, Know Your Rights
“She shouldn’t have gone for abortion. ” Lola stated.
“Why?” Deola asked.
The Spiritual Head will be angry with her and her parents. “
“But the Spiritual Head would have done the same thing for his daughter in this case of rape by armed robbers now?” Deola replied.
“Hmmm, it’s a serious dilemma really. “
Above was the conversation between two teenagers who were discussing their friend who had a safe abortion in a government approved clinic. And many scenarios with different circumstances play out on daily basis making girls and women having to take family planning decisions as well as safe abortion services.
At the Safe Engage workshop organised by the Population Reference Bureau, PRB, Washington DC in collaboration with Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, in Lagos, participants were exposed to the various rights of women both national and international.
Cross section of participants at the workshop.
Speaking on this topic, Sybil Nmezi talked about activities of some women’s groups and community health providers’ role in promoting access to reproductive health information.
But further investigations have revealed that many women still do not know their rights and they need to know as well as ensure the enforcement of such rights.
We must be able to make our own decisions in the best of our health and as women, we must be there for ourselves when need be.
Sybil Nmezi of Generation Initiative for Women and Youths Network, GIWYN, said that the continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media communications must change while policymakers’, traditional/religious leaders’, society’s and healthcare providers’ attitude must be geared towards removing bureaucratic barriers to safe abortion.
“Women must enjoy their right to
decide on their body/health, to control their childbearing and bodily integrity,
achieve their plans and visions, end unwanted pregnancies, space births,
save their lives, increase their decision-making power, and access to education and employment.”
Do you know that people and situations are different and each person deserves to feel heard, understood and respected?
Each woman deserves care as she navigates her reproductive health process and eventually makes the decision she feels is best for her at any point in her life which in turn promotes public health.
Also, women must be given various options by professionals and empower them to choose the one suitable for them.
Policymakers can help prevent unnecessary harm to women’s health and lives, while also pushing for necessary legal and policy reforms by setting up a national network to advance reproductive rights, dignity, and bodily autonomy of women.
“Ensure prompt and quality post abortion care to women and adolescent girls in need. Ensure that women’s rights to health care and confidentiality are respected by providing prompt, legal, and safe services upon her request, without requiring forensic evidence, police examination, and/or judicial authorization.”
Do you know that seeking for safe abortion is a legitimate choice.
Nmezi said that GIWYN supports women with resources and information about their reproductive health, creates a violence free platform for women and girls seeking information on reproductive health, issues.
“From what GIWYN has seen over the last 10 years, we know that the immediate and long-term health lack of access to SRHR services are destructive to women and girls, no matter their age,
Include physical injury, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, other gynecological complications
Increased clandestine services leading to unsafe procedures., increased stigma,
Increased complication, poverty, drop out of school, early marriage etc.” Nmezi explained.
Also speaking at the workshop, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, of University of Lagos’ Faculty of Law did an overview of the legal framework affecting abortion calling for a need to address the challenges relating to ensuring safe abortion.
Prof. Fabamwo, Alana Barton and others at the workshop.
In addition, another facilitator, Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, Executive Director, WARDC, discussed various forms of sexual violence against women reiterating the need for the adoption of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law in all states of the federation.
They all agreed that human rights and the law, including reproductive health access is a social, gender, racial, and reproductive justice issue.
And You Need To Know That;
Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights : including the right to:
life, health, privacy, education, the prohibition of discrimination, make informed decision and be free from torture.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) article 16) guarantees women equal rights in deciding “freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;
(article 10) also specifies that women’s right to education includes “access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of families, including information and advice on family.
The Beijing Platform for Action states that; the human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
It’s worthy of note that Nigeria joined the other 192 Member States of the United Nations to adopt the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.
Goal 5, Target Six calls for :
“ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents including :
Maputo Protocol and the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights provide a strong normative framework for realization of gender equality and human rights on the continent, including SRHR.
Women are entitled to reproductive health care services, goods and facilities that are: (a) available in adequate numbers; (b) accessible physically and economically; (c) accessible without discrimination; and (d) of good quality, according to UN Report.
Do You Know That Access to Reproductive Health entails that;
These services are provided by medical professionals, affordable, easy to get (available), free of coercion, stigma and discrimination, not biased, youth-friendly, without bureaucracy, not influenced by traditional, cultural and religious beliefs?According to WHO 2019’s report, 400 million people lack access to most essential health services.
*Women and girls are at particular risk when a region or country’s social, health and other support systems collapse, exposing them to sexual violence, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and death.
Yet, sexual and reproductive health services continue to lag far behind the enormous need.
Of course, certain policies and norms can lead to systematic violation of women’s rights; refusal to provide care, refusal to address complications if they occur, insufficient pain management and refusal to provide abortion and post-abortion care perpetrates stigma.
Like the scenario described at the beginning of this article, women and girls risk denial and judgment by peers in places of worship, employment, school among others.
In most cases, they are labelled negatively. And this is why we need to be there for ourselves by removing all barriers to safe abortion, claiming and enforcing our rights.
When we get it right for our women, we get it right as a nation. Let’s implement all policies and treaties agreed to as a nation as well as eliminate all barriers to safe abortion.