Reproductive Rights & Health of Women in Low Income Communities
Morning Crossfire today focuses on reproductive rights and health. Sheriff Quadri takes a look at the issue from the work of Ayodele Olofintuade - Journalist, Fellow Wole Soyinka Centre Female Reporters Leadership Programme. He wants to know why she embarked on this project. Here’s what she had to say.
“I lived in a lower-income community in Ibadan and I noticed a high rate of child mortality, and not just that, but mortality for pregnant women. Every three or four months, there were reports of deaths and also people die from wanting to self-abort babies. It was just that crazy and I asked myself if there’s something going on that I didn’t know about. This is what made do an investigative report on reproductive health.”
She says that when she started doing the project, she realized that many women did not realize that they had rights over their bodies. “They believed that their fathers, husbands, other family members, and religious institutions are the ones that would determine the number of children they could have. They also decide when or how they should have children.”
Adebanke Akinrimisi, who is in the studio with Sheriff and Rotimi also offers some insight on the issue. According to her, the root cause of the problems women are facing is Gender Inequality. “The way our society is shaped, men are in control. It is highly patriarchal. Because men determine how women should live their lives, every girl or woman grows up believing people have to tell her what to become and what to do to be successful.
“The home should be the right place for information to reach a girl. But the mothers don’t even know what to do. But the health centers can offer the girl even though the school environment should also give the girl-child the right information. However, many of these girls are not in school. When we talk about sex education, parents do not know how to go about it and it is all shrouded in secrecy. But at each stage of the child’s life, he or she must be thought about his or her body, knowing that sexual health education is not about sex.”
Rotimi Sankore praises the sexual rights and education is the primary way women have been able to liberate themselves and become useful for the society. “More women have been able to improve not just their personal lives but the lives of the society. Just think of hundreds of thousands of women engineers, doctors, lawyers, and accountants that would not be able to finish the university education without the possibility of family planning or contraception.”
Research indicates that every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the 2nd largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world, according to @UNICEF
Notably, these deaths according to research could have been prevented by basic investment in primary healthcare and infrastructure by the government. How more effective ways can the Nigeria government go about integrating sex education in our country's educational curriculum?
What are the policy deficiencies you think we have in Nigeria as regards ensuring a safe reproductive health system?
Get the better picture by joining in… Watch the show below and leave your comments.
Ayodele Olofintuade - Journalist, Fellow Wole Soyinka Centre Female Reporters Leadership Programme
Mrs. Adebanke Akinrimisi - Coordinator, Center for Women's Health and Information Lagos
Adeola Olusola - Senior Programme Officer, Action Health Incorporated Lagos
Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert is also live on the show
By Jude Chukwuemeka