In recent times, Nigeria has experienced conflicts in its 6 geopolitical zones. At the center of conflict are women and children who are most vulnerable. From rape to abuse, women face a lot of reproductive healthcare challenges. In the context of humanitarian conflicts, are women’s rights to reproductive healthcare valid? And if yes, how does this promote gender equality and equity? What policies are in place to safeguard women’s reproductive health rights in conflict? Are there even policies in the first place and if there are how effective are they? How do these policies affect service delivery to women in conflict and host communities and IDP camps?
These are the issues raised and addressed at the stakeholder’s consultative meeting on Addressing Gaps in Policy and Access to Reproductive Healthcare for Women in Conflict Context (project AGRIC) which is powered by Theodora Anavhe Adamu Foundation (TAAF), held on the 29th of September 2023 at the Grand Pela Hotel Abuja.
In her opening remarks, Lady Tee Thompson, (UNA-USA Women Group Chairperson and International Gender Equality Advocate) said reproductive care is a fundamental human right and every woman deserves a healthy and fulfilling life.
“The pursuit of gender equality in healthcare, and particularly in reproductive care, is not just a matter of justice but of fundamental human rights. Every woman, irrespective of her background or circumstances, is entitled to comprehensive and respectful health care as her birthright. A gender lens in healthcare ensures that every individual, regardless of their gender, has an equal opportunity to live a healthy and fulfilling life.”
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) plays a pivotal role, especially in regions like Nigeria. It serves as a beacon, guiding nations to commit to removing barriers and ensuring that all women experience the care, respect, and opportunities they deserve.
“We all have a stake in this. Gender equality benefits societies at every level, fostering growth, stability, and prosperity.” Lady Tee said
While addressing the stakeholders, the Executive Director of Theodora Anavhe Adamu Foundation and the convener of the Addressing Gaps in Policy and Access to Reproductive Health Care for women in conflict project, Mrs Odion Ikyo calls for cooperation of stakeholder and action plan to engage goverrment and international agencies.
” We can’t talk about closing reproductive healthcare gaps for women in humanitarian conflict without asking what policies are in place to safeguard women’s rights in conflict. We hope that by working together with stakeholders represented here, we will come up with an implementable action plan for further engagement with legislators, the government and UN agencies.” ikyo said
The three key points reached by stakeholders are
- There has to be more synergy and coordination by the government, international organizations, UN, and CSOs.
- More accountability in funding for reproductive health care programs for women in conflict context
- Review policies protecting and promoting women’s reproductive health rights in conflict
Stakeholders represented at this event were representatives of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Health, Humanitarian Affairs, Nigeria Youth Parliament, Foreign Affairs, Senator Adams Oshiomole, FIDA, ARFH, NGOs, CSOs