IWD: NRHJN calls for more uptake in CPR, more women in political appointments

IWD: NRHJN calls for more uptake in CPR, more women in political appointments

The Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, NRHJN, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that there’s a remarkable increase in Contraceptive Prevalent Rate, CPR, as well as to ensure that women are given a fair share of ministerial appointments and other elective positions. “We expect that the current imbalance will be corrected through adherence to the 35 percent affirmative action.”

It’s another season of celebrating women all over the world especially the teeming population of Nigerian women. It’s the 2019 International Women Day celebration with the theme, “Balance for Better”.

Nigeria has an estimated population of 199,273,969 of which about 49.34% are women according to the 2016 NBS.

Also, by the 2019 INEC registration, of 84,004,084 registered voters, 39,598,645 are women representing 47.14%.

From the foregoing, women population is certainly germane to economic, political and healthy wellbeing of the country.

It follows therefore that to have a Balanced for Better world, there is need for conscious effort to accelerate gender parity.

According to the IWD campaign theme, clearly, “Balance” is not a women’s issue rather, it’s a business issue.  It is for this reason the International bodies see the race to be on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth and gender-balanced sports coverage among other issues.
In a release signed by Yinka Shokunbi, National Secretary, Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, NRHJN, the group stated that indeed, gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

Therefore, for the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, the question is “how do Nigerian women balance for better lives especially at such a time wherein the nation’s economy is just coming out of recession?

From the submission of the chair of the Local Organising Committee, (LOC), 5th Nigeria Family Planning Conference 2018, Dr. Ejike Oji, “for there to be inclusiveness and innovation in investment opportunities for everyone regardless of being a woman or man, there must be deliberate effort to bridge the gender disparity gap in education, employment opportunities and by giving everyone equal chances to thrive. “This must start with access to services that empower women to plan their lives which is, access to family planning services”, said Dr. Oji.

In the words of Oji, “Family planning services is a right and the only way we can make sure women and girls and men too, exercise this right, is to empower them to make those critical decisions based on their choices in an atmosphere free of coercion”.

Also, for there to be a “Balance for Better” in the words of Chair, FP2020, Beth Schlachter, “One of the guiding principles of the FP2020 partnership is that no matter your gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, or marital status, you have the right to decide if, whether, or when to have a child.

“For advocates and implementers, that means in addition to married couples and those living in close proximity to a range of high-quality health care services, we must also focus on the needs of the hardest to reach: rural women and refugees, gender and sexual minorities, unmarried couples, young people, and people with disabilities”, she noted.

However, for the UN Women which has modified the Global Theme as: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.

According to the UN Women, “Achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind. From urban planning that focuses on community safety to e-learning platforms that take classrooms to women and girls, affordable and quality childcare centres, and technology shaped by women, innovation can take the race for gender equality to its finishing line by 2030.

“It begins with making sure that women’s and girls’ needs and experiences are integrated at the very inception of technology and innovations. It means building smart solutions that go beyond acknowledging the gender gaps to addressing the needs of men and women equally. And ultimately, it needs innovations that disrupt business as usual, paying attention to how and by whom technology is used and accessed, and ensuring that women and girls play a decisive role in emerging industries”, states the UN Women.

For Nigerian women, the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN) therefore advocates for innovative programs and ways that seek to ensure no woman is left behind when it comes to access to family planning services particularly modern contraceptives.

The NRHJN is making a strong case that all in-coming states governments must consciously provide budget lines for Family Planning to be compulsorily released timely, for the purpose of ensuring services are provided at the Primary Healthcare level.

According to the World Bank, Nigeria currently has the greatest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world. The primary reason for this development is that financial resources are scarce and the nation is producing more people than it can cater for.

On this year’s IWD, the major commitment by Nigerian authorities should be to make sure that the nation’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) and acceptance of modern contraceptive methods is at least 27 percent by 2020.

Currently, the nation’s CPR is just about 14.3 percent. It is certain that if Nigeria truly wants to change the narrative of poverty as a nation, we must be truly committed to empowering women by giving them access to modern contraceptive methods and sexual reproductive health services as well as end the global gag rule.

There must as a matter of urgency and necessity, the inclusion of all women regardless of any form of disability, in the provision and access to family planning services whenever there is demand in all primary healthcare centres in wards of various local governments all over the federation.

In recognition of the IWD as the focal point in the movement for women’s rights, the Network sees the day as opportunity to reflect on progress made, call for change and celebrate achievements of women across the world.

The Network is also particularly concerned about the appalling situation of women at the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and seek urgent intervention of the President to scale up the welfare of women on the camps.

“We are tasking the Federal Government to expedite action on rehabilitation of the women in these IDP camps to their homes. We call on government at all levels to, as a matter of priority, create an enabling environment that would enable Nigerian women opportunity to balance their work, family and social lives and contribute optimally to the economic growth of the nation.”

“We observe that IWD brings to fore the Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5 which call for universal access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights of women and girls.”

“We condemn the rising incidences of sexual violence across the country and demand that every state government must immediately adopt and domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015 to give redress to all persons that suffer sexual and other forms of violence.”

The group particularly noted that Goal 5 of the SDGs gives credence to gender equality and empowers all women and girls for development at all sides.

As a professional body, the NRHJN called on Federal Government and governments of the 36 States and the FCT, to invest much more in initiatives that promote the health and welfare of women and girls, but stopping all forms of harmful traditional practices, violence against women and gender discrimination.

“We recognize that women are the most affected in moments of domestic and communal crises, the Network is demanding that the country enforces effective policies to protect women in times of domestic or communal conflict in order to enable the women to attain their full potential.” NRHJN concluded.

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