A group of Nigerian women activists have called for programmes targetted at improving the health of women in the country. The group said empowering women will enhance the country’s workforce and economy.
The coalition of Women in the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health said this at a press briefing held on Sunday in commemoration of the 109th International Women’s Day (IWD).
The event is marked every March 8 to advance the cause of women all over the world.
Speaking at the briefing, Gloria Shoda said 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.
“Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights, and are fundamental to women’s autonomy and well-being”, she said.
According to the National Demographic Health Survey 2018, 6.9 per cent of Nigerian women of reproductive age (15-49) are acutely malnourished and 3.8 per cent severely malnourished.
The speaker said the Nigerian government should promote women’s rights and provide women with accessible, affordable, good quality sexual and reproductive health care and services.
Mrs Shoda, from the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), called on the government to invest and ensure accountability of programmes geared towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) – Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
To meet women’s health care needs, barriers to achieving gender equality should be removed, she said.
“Some of the barriers include lack of women’s education, illiteracy, lack of mentoring 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)”, she said.
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
The coalition in a statement made available to journalist after the briefing made the following demands:
1. All tiers of government in Nigeria should fund, strengthen and ensure accountability of the National and State Primary Health Care Boards.
2. The government should ensure the provision of minimum service package in all primary health care centres.
3. 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 organisations such as NURTW.
4. National Assembly should pass laws on the 35 per cent affirmative action for women involvement and inclusion in governance.
5. The government should also provide training to birth attendants on essential newborn care and
provide appropriate equipment.
6. Community leaders, gatekeepers, traditional and religious leaders, and other well-meaning Nigerians should promote voluntary blood donation to assist women in need.
7. All state governments should enforce that women are given six months of maternity leave, with full pay.