Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Cross River State Government has strongly stated that it will no longer take it lightly with violators and perpetrators of violence against women and girls in the society. State Deputy governor, Prof. Ivara Esu made this statement while launching the 2021 UNFPA State of the World Population, SWOP Report held at the State Government’s Exco Chambers in Calabar. He appreciated the UN for their support in different areas of their mandate.
The deputy governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Banku expressed delight at the activities of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA. He said the UN agency has been a great support to Cross River State, stating that Cross River State government will not relent in rolling out support for the UN body in achieving her dreams in the state.
He particularly said that “UNFPA has been consistent in working towards ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unmet needs for family planning and ending all forms of Gender Based Violence and harmful practices against women and girls.”
He said: “Today as we launch UNFPA’s flagship report on the State of the World Population (SWOP), it is pertinent to reiterate the State Government’s position and commitment in joining hands with relevant agencies to ensure that Cross River State is free from harmful practices against girls and elimination of sexual violence and other inequalities.
“From the report, it shows that hundreds of millions of women and girls around the World do not own their bodies and their lives are governed by others. In Cross River, the practice of ‘money marriage’ has been abolished as our girls in the northern part of the state are no more subjected to such a practice. Ours is an inclusive agenda to ensure that the rights of our women and girls are protected hence the involvement/interaction with our traditional institutions to give it the much needed attention it deserves.”
He used the medium to appreciate UNFPA for their support and commitment to the healthcare of Cross Riverians through the provision of medical supplies, upgrading of the School of Midwifery and the Fistula Centre at the General Hospital in Calabar and for establishing and equipping of youth friendly centres in the state which he affirmed to have served as safe spaces for the young people.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the event, the UNFPA Head of Cross River Sub-Office, Dr. Omolaso Omosehin said UNPAID is working towards achieving 3 transformative goals by 2030. He noted that the SWOP report is an annual report published by UNFPA.
In his words: “The State of the World Population Report is a publication that is launched by UNFPA every year since 1978. In the report, we seek to draw attention to reproductive health, where we highlight issues that concern the health of women and girls. For this year we’re looking at the bodily autonomy of the women because we believe that it’s a fundamental human right for every women and for every girl to own their own body and decide what they want to do with their own body.
“It also seeks to bring the attention of the World that issues like female genital mutilation and cutting should be avoided because it has not only medical implications, it has physical implications and but it’s is also a violation of the fundamental human rights of the girl”.
In her goodwill message, the Commissioner, Ministry of International Donor Corporation, Dr Inyang Asibong lauded UNFPA for being a formidable tool in ensuring that issues affecting women in the state are brought to the barest minimum. She added that the ministry will always support the team whenever the need arises.
The theme for the 2021 SWOP report is, “My body is my own: claiming the right to autonomy and self-determination”. The report shows that Gender-unequal norms and attitudes lead to power imbalances in relationships that restrict women’s decisions, particularly when it comes to saying no to sex.
It also reveals that patriarchal beliefs often translate into expectations that women defer to their husbands or partners in all aspects of their lives, including their sex lives, adding that these expectations may not only mean that a woman should always engage in sex whenever her husband wants it, but also that she should not initiate sex or openly express her desires.