In celebrating the International Women Day (IWD), Nigeria women deserve to #balanceforbetter living conditions says Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN).
In a statement to mark the 2019 IWD themed: “Balance for Better”, the Reproductive Health Journalists note that it’s time all state governments commit resources through budget lines for Family Planning services as well as timely release the budget to provide modern contraceptives in all Health Centres.
According to the Network in a statement to mark the IWD, when governments budget and release those fund for family planning services, it encourages more Nigerian women take up modern contraceptives “hence we increase the contraceptive prevalence rate to meet our FP2020 target of 27% from the current 14%”.
The group noted that with the current population of women in the country which stands at 49.34% of 199,273,969, “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”, states NRHJN.
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.
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”, notes UN Women Lead.
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 asking 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.