International Women’s Day: Coalition of women in PACFaH@Scale calls for gender equality, urges implementation of 6 month maternity leave

By Bature Dan-Inni, Abuja

Nigerian women have called for the removal of all forms of gender inequality as a prerequisite to achieving empowering all women and girls in the country.

The women under the banner of Coalition of Women in PACFaH@Scale also called on the agencies concerned to ensure that all state governments should enforce that women are given 6 months maternity leave, with full pay.

Addressing journalists at the PACFaH@Scale office in Abuja on Saturday, Dr. Gloria Larabai Shoda of the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) said that, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights, and are fundamental to women’s autonomy and well-being.

She said, “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,” she added.

Speaking further on the condition of women, she called on government at all levels should provide emergency transportation to pregnant women and newborns in need and provide funds for operational cost.

“There is utmost need for the government to provide training to all skilled birth attendants on essential newborn care and provide appropriate equipment,” she said.

According to her, recent research shows that, 9 percent of Nigerian women of reproductive age (15-49) are acutely malnourished and 3.8 percent as severely malnourished, with more than half of women population (52%) report at least one problem accessing health care for themselves.

“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,” she further revealed.

Dr Larabai Shoda express 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.

“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,” she added.