Nigeria: FG, stakeholders mull improved programmes for fistula victims, survivors

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WorldStage Newsonline– The Federal Government of Nigeria and some stakeholders have initiated strategies to improve programmes for victims and survivors of obstetric fistula via the National Gender Policy (NGP).

Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMoWA), said this at the inauguration of a two-day workshop on institutional Gender Capacity Assessment, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The workshop was being organised by the ministry in collaboration with a group, Momentum Safe Surgery in Family Planning and Obstetrics for Permanent Secretaries; Directors of Women Affairs, Planning, Research and Statistics Officers drawn from Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Ebonyi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the efforts would ensure implementation of the NGP as well as improve pysical and mental wellbeing of women and girls affected by fistula.

Represented by Mr Idris Mohmamed, Director, Economic Services in the ministry, Shinkafi said the workshop would enable the five focal states adopt the new gender policy to address gaps, discrimination and harmful practices against women and girls.

“ This workshop will avail the participants the opportunity to discuss the challenges they are currently facing in the course of discharging their duties while working to ameliorate the plight of the vulnerable women and girls suffering from fistula whose rights, dignity and freedom are continuously being abused in our society.

“ Women have the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“ The enjoyment of this right is vital to their lives and wellbeing, however, health and wellbeing often elude majority of women.

“ Good health is essential to leading a productive and fulfilling life, and the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment,’’ he said.

Prof. Olabisi Aina, Sociology Department, Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy (OAU), Ife, said the new policy has three pillars, which are gender equality, women empowerment and social inclusion.

Aina stressed the need for the ministry to collaborate and coordinate gender issues like the obstetric fistula, socio- cultural norms and others deep rooted causes of fistula.

“ FMoWA needs to reinvigorates itself to be able to deliver all the policies and ensure others are doing what they are supposed to do,’’ she said.

Also speaking, Dr Kabiru Attah, Country Representative, Engender Health Nigeria, noted some challenges affecting women and girls, such as child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), fistula, amongst others.

“All these issues are Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and for us to address it, there is a need for gender policy that all stakeholders can key into and see the pathway to resolve these issues.

“So, what we are doing today is to bring the state permanent secretaries, directors and key stakeholders together to understand the NGP, the strategies and frameworks and let them look inward and say based on issues in each of the state, bring the context and solutions,’’ he said.

Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said the Agency has conducted digital training for young girls and women, especially those at the grassroots.

Inuwa, represented by Mrs Akaliro Uchi, Assistant Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy, said that NITDA as an IT regulatory agency, focuses more on digital skills to fast track development of sustainable digital economy.

“We focus more on training of women in rural areas, young girls on how to operate the computer and more on the digital economy.

Alhaji Samaila Ahmed, Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development commended the project, adding that it reduced prevalence of obstetric fistula in the state.

“The programme is timely considering that cases of fistula is enormous, especially at the local communities in the state.

“As a result, the state has a federal fistula centre in Ningi that handles fistula cases in the state and other states as well,’’ he said.

For her part, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed, Permanent Secretary, Sokoto State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development reiterated commitment to end fistula in the state.