THE THEME OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY FOR THIS YEAR – 2022 IS ‘BREAKING THE BIAS’ GENDER EQUALITY TODAY FOR A SUSTAINABLE TOMORROW
International Women’s Day is commemorated every year on the 8th of March to celebrate the achievements of women in the social, economic, cultural and political areas of society. In addition to celebrating the achievements of women, International Women’s Day is also an important day for making calls to action to address the challenges and concerns faced by women.
We, the women leaders of civil society organizations in the PACFaH@Scale project are happy to celebrate all of the great achievements of Nigerian women on this 2022 International Women’s Day while addressing the inequalities faced by the women of this country.
This year’s International Women’s Day is coming at a time when Nigerian women are crying for laws and policies to protect their rights to participate, and be included in equal measure into all aspects of sustainable national development – in political representation, in health and the economy. In all sectors.
The PACFaH@Scale project is committed to gender equality in the area of public health. The PACFaH@Scale project calls on government to recognize the special needs of women as mothers and the main rights holders for child and family health. As mothers and as the main support base of the Nigerian family, government must make adequate provisions for the health of the Nigerian women and girls.
While we commend the Federal and state Governments for developing, and launching new health policies with potentially positive implications for the health of women, we the women leaders of civil society organizations in the PACFaH@Scale project are concerned that in the face of a shrinking revenue base to government, the health needs of women are not being prioritized as there are no assurances of cash backing for the new policies and platforms.
For example, the Reproductive, Maternal, New-born, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) multi-stakeholder partnership coordination platform and the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHRS) Community of Practice (COP) coordination platform to support the implementation of the National Family Planning Blueprint (2020-2024) in 2021.
Moreover, while we are pleased to note the Federal government’s plans for Family Planning 2030 recommitment and the recent launch of the National Development Plan to 2025 as well as the National Population Policy, we remain concerned about the absence of committed funding and action plans to tease out and implement at community level, the women friendly components of these laudable initiatives.
Since the approval of the 2022 Annual Budget, the entire coalition of the PACFaH@Scale NGOs, made up of men and women, have pointed to two negative implications of the 2022 national budget for women. One is the sub-optimal funds allocated to the health sector which received the sum of ₦835.12 billion or only 5% of the national budget. This works out to be only N3,967 that the Federal government will spend for every citizen of Nigeria. Also, there is no budget line for family planning contraceptive commodities as was the practice and provision in the previous years. Sourcing for this funding outside a budget line is unsustainable.
Against this background, the women in the PACFaH@Scale project, are calling on government to fund and implement women friendly policies in the health sector at the national level. We are also calling on the Federal government to provide robust policy, monitoring and evaluation guidelines to states so that health sector at sub-national levels becomes the arena and shining star for gender equality in Nigeria. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, which as we all know, is Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) is an important goal that can be achieved in the health sector.
However, gender equality in the health sector can only become a reality if our Brothers and Fathers, who are in the majority as Nigerian policy makers, think about and remember each and every woman who make up Nigeria’s extremely high maternal death rate. As they think about these women, who are our sisters, they must also recall existing national policies which link safe delivery and maternal health to health timing, child spacing, family planning. Nigeria’s policy commitment to integrated maternal health can only be achieved through a willful government effort to provide the leadership, adequate funding, implementation guidance and incentives, for responsive and cost-effective services to Nigerian women at their most vulnerable hour of need as mothers.
To the media, we thank you very much for making time to be with us here today and as you investigate and produce your various stories please take a minute to remember that one of the greatest indicators of gender equality in any country is the ability of its women to access maternal health services leading to healthy delivery.
For: Women in PACFaH@Scale
Hajiya Halima Ben Umar
Project Director- Women in Media-PACFaH@Scale Project
Dr Hadijat Olaide Raji
Representing the National President Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
Dr Rahila Mukthar
Project Director – Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria Kano-PAS
Prof Rhoda Mundi
Population Association of Nigeria
Comrade Bunmi Lawal-Aiyedun
National Association of Pediatric Nurses of Nigeria
Pharm Ijeoma Nwankwo
Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria