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World Population Day: Stakeholders advocate gender equality

Population stakeholders have unanimously advocated for global gender equality aimed at making women and girls live their lives to the fullest.

Women farmers
Women farmers

The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, amplified the stakeholders’ call at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, ahead of the 2023 World Population Day (WPD).

Established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989, the WPD is an annual event observed on July 11 to raise awareness of global population issues.

The global observance day has “Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality, Uplifting the Voices of Women and Girls to Unlock Our World’s Infinite Possibilities’’ as the theme for 2023.

The World Population Dashboard showcases global population data, including fertility rate, gender parity in school enrollment, information on sexual and reproductive health, among others.

The data, gathered by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and fellow UN agencies and updated annually, analyses the state and health of people around the world.

The NPC boss, therefore, called for more efforts to address the rights of women and girls, aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Achieving Gender Equity.

He identified unlimited access to quality formal education for women and girls, as well as acquiring livelihood skills as keys to gender development and equality.

Kwarra, who said women represent 49.7 per cent of the entire population, called for total inclusion of women and girls in decision-making roles, including leadership, to enable them to live their lives to the fullest.

The chairman also called for dismantling of all discriminatory laws, customs and culture that limit women and girls’ potential, including protection from Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices.

Ms Ulla Mueller, the Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), reiterated the commitment of the UN to support the call for women empowerment.

Mueller said that only women’s proper access to education and family planning would break the cycle of poverty.

She called for change of narrative of gender norms that denied women access to equality.

According to her, the narrative will pave the way for genuine empowerment.

She added: “When women and girls are granted opportunities, their families flourish.

“We call on all to partner with our goal to achieve women empowerment.’’

Mr Olufunsho Adebiyi, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, said that the theme of the 2023 WPD is apt, as it seeks to empower women and girls.

Adebiyi, who was represented by Dr John Ovuoraye, a Director in the ministry, said that the current world population of eight billion people needed to be developed by giving voices to women and girls.

He said existing gender norms should be addressed to dismantle prejudices that affect women negatively.

The permanent secretary added that mainstreaming gender in policies to empower women is imperative for national and global development.

According to him, equal representation provides strong foundation for empowerment of women and girls.

Dr Ejike Oji, the Chairman, Technical Management Committee, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), said women and girls were disproportionately affected.

Oji identified education of young girls as key to reducing poverty and strengthening family planning.

He said: “We need to as a matter of necessity make family planning a priority.”

Dr Okai Aku, the Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), described the federation as implementor of family planning services at the grassroots.

Aku said family planning is key to the attainment of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

By Ikenna Osuoha

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