UNFPA calls for increased women, girls protection

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United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has presented the 2017 State of the World Population Report (SWOP) with a call for the Nigerian government to provide more protection to women and adolescent girls.

Dr Eugene Kongnyuy, the Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA Nigeria, made the call while presenting the report on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the theme of the report was “World Apart: Sexual Health and Rights in Age of Inequality”, stressing that the theme focused on inequality in sexual and reproductive health and its impact in the society.

He added that “on the impact of sexual and reproductive health to society, the issue is that if women and girls do not have adequate access to sexual and reproductive health services, the society will have less Gross Domestic Product.

“At the household level when a family has more children than it can afford, then, the family will not be able to send them to school, and it cannot take care of them.

“It will also make the family to become poorer.”

He advised that families should be allowed to have access to family planning and the girls should not be allowed to marry before 18 years.

Kongnyuy said young and adolescent girls should be allowed to go to school, to enable them to make informed decisions.

“If that happens, then there will be gender equality, women would be empowered, their dignity would be restored,’’ he said

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He added that for Nigeria to be able to reduce inequality, government must ensure that women and girls access family planning services and more girls were enrolled into schools.

He also urged government to ensure that family planning was made free for all
to decide when to marry and have the next child.

Earlier, Dr Diene Keita, the Country Representative of UNFPA, said the agency had been working to decrease maternal mortality indices and ensure that young people and adolescents got the healthcare they needed in Nigeria.

She said the report was a new beginning for the agency to ensure that women and young girls got the services they needed under the new country programme commencing in 2018.

While correlating womens’ standard of living with family planning, the country representative said that the more women were educated, the more chances they would have to contribute to the development of the society.

She added that the report highlighted the importance of education and good health services, stressing that education and health were the two major tools for development of any country.

“Any country that makes good investment of these two key sectors will make women to rise up and make positive contributions to the society,’’ she said.

In his remarks, Dr Babagana Wakil, the cting Director-General of National Population Commission, said “the report links wealth to existing inequalities in access to reproductive health services.

“Reducing inequalities in reproductive health paves way for prosperity for all but principally for women and girls in poor households to overcome disadvantages in education and income earnings.”