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Commission Backs Women’s Reproductive Health Rights

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Chairman National Population Commission (NPC) Festus Odimegwu has restated the commission’s commitment towards promoting women reproductive health issues in Nigeria.

Odimegwu was briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday, in commemoration of the forthcoming 2012 World Population Day on June 11 which theme for the year’s celebration is: “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services’’.

The chairman said that the reproduction health situation in Nigeria demanded a more holistic intervention.

Quoting the National Demographic Health Survey of 2008 (NDHS), Odimegwu said that 52,900 women and girls die every year from pregnancy related causes.

“More attention needed to be paid to accessing voluntary family planning services, increase age at first birth and improve maternal health services.

Odimegwu, who was represented by the FCT Federal Commissioner for NPC, Alhaji Sani Sulieman, urged stakeholders to increase advocacy to policy makers so as to increase budgetary allocation for reproductive health.

He said that better funding for reproductive health services would enhance the exercise of the rights to determine family size.

“When essential reproductive health suppliers, including contraceptives are made available, individuals are empowered to determine their family sizes.

“When the need is not met, the effort at reproductive health in the country will be highly frustrated and jeopardised.

“Several women are confronted with unwanted pregnancies everyday; this could have been easily prevented if only they have access to contraceptives,” the chairman said.

When a woman spaces her children, it enables her body to recuperate properly and it reduces the cases of ‘at-risk pregnancies’.

“Apart from the health benefits, it enables the woman to be economically vibrant.

“Sometimes ago, it was difficult for a woman to take steps towards family planning without the consent of her husband; however, that requirement has been relaxed.

“Now, families can have only children they are prepared to cater for; no one should be forced to have a child by mistake,” Pede said.

“A woman can now walk into any hospital, seek counsel and actually begin the process of birth control without the consent of her spouse,’’ he added.

Dr Linus Amobi, a mass communication teacher, however, stressed that the media were very crucial to the success of the current advocacy on population growth for sustainable development.

He, nonetheless, stressed that journalists ought to be sufficiently educated on population issues to enable them to inform and educate the populace responsibly.

“They should be able to counter any adverse publicity or information put out by mischief makers. In a nutshell, the media should not be viewed as a tool for propaganda; rather, they should serve as a vehicle and forum for education, dialogue, debate and discussion.

“Rural communities should not be left behind in the campaign; the use of traditional and folk media is considered imperative. There is also the need to get the message right, based on socio-cultural sensibilities of the people,’’ Amobi said.

“Above all, government at all levels must redouble efforts to efficiently manage the available resources in the best interest of the people.

“Government should be sincere and transparent, while making tangible efforts to reduce unemployment and provide the necessary amenities,’’ he added.

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Women Plan To Build Pastor’s House

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The Women Department of the Ascension Apostolic Church, Elekahia headquarters, is sourcing for N4.5million for the construction of the Pastor’s parsonage.
Women leader of the church, Deaconess Queen Chukwu said this in an interview at the Sixth Annual Women Day celebration of the church.
Theme for the event was ‘Women The Pillar’.
Chukwu also said the women were also planning to acquire more land for the expansion of the church.
She said women had contributed so much in many departments of the church such as, medical, sanitation and choir among others.
Earlier in an address read by the Women Secretary, Deaconess Victory Saana, the women said the occasion was another call for women to know their responsibilities that they are not just women but pillars upon which the church, family and society are built upon.
She said women had significant role to play in supporting their families, churches and society through hardwork, humility and good communication.
They listed some of their achievements as, purchase of new generator set, purchase of cooking utensils and purchase of the land where church building is standing.
Chairman of the occasion, Hon.Kingsley Leh urged the men to support their wives in their activities.
He also thanked the women for their support to the church.
Guest preacher, Madam Blessing Badoo, urged the women to sustain their support to the church and society.
Badoo told the women to continue to play their role in their respective families, communities and societies.
She stressed the need for them to engage in enterpreneural training to improve themselves.
The host pastor, Rev. Michael Barisudor, said the women were responsible for all development in the church, adding that the church is proud of its Women Department.

By: John Bibor

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Group Makes Case For Girl-Child Education

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Student union leaders in Rivers State have identified girl-child education as an integral part to societal growth and advancement.
Speaking during an event, “PAD A Girl-Child” organised by leaders of Aluta Conscious Female in Rivers State University (RSU), President of the group, Comrade Meelubari Worgor said educating a female girl-child and giving them the right skills would act as key indicator to enhance societal development.
Worgor explained that ACF was a platform to encourage women in leadership positions and support them to succeed, adding that the association pushes future female leaders through the PAD platform.
According to her, the objective of the PAD is to raise and shape the girl-child educationally, financially and emotionally to make her stable in her future.
It is designed, “To make the girl-child stand firm politically, materially to face her world” she stated.
She disclosed that this year’s celebration marks the 3rd anniversary of the group.
Worgor said events marking the anniversary climaxed with the distinguished award of honour bestowed on Mr Kpegile Penu Favour for his support to girl-child education in the state.
Speaking while receiving the award on behalf of Mr Kpegile Penu Favour, Comrade Kpobari Penu thanked the group for finding Favour worthy of the award, and promised that the award would spur him to continue in the development of the girl-child in the society.

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Speak Up When Sexually Abused, Banigo Urges Survivors

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has said that survivors of sexual abuse must speak up for the perpetrators of the heinous crime to be punished.
Banigo reiterated this during a sensitisation campaign on the theme: “Dealing with Mental Health and Sexual Abuse in Unity Schools”, organized by the Support the Girl Child Initiative Programme of her office at the Federal Government College in Port Harcourt.
Represented by her Senior Special Assistant, Barrister Inegogo Fubara, the deputy governor said the programme was put together because of the importance she attaches to the mental and psychological health of young people, adding that it was part of the commemoration of the World Mental Health Day and the International Day of the Girl Child.
Banigo, who urged the students to take the programme seriously, said they should see the guidance counsellor of the school whenever they were depressed for proper counselling, stressing that they must speak out whenever they face any form of abuse.
“I want you to understand that the fact that you have been sexually abused is not the end of life, there is life after rape, and there is life after sexual abuse. Do not keep quiet about it, even if it was done at home or in school, please speak up”, Banigo added.
According to the deputy governor, “Rape is a criminal offence that is punishable, and the punishment for rape is life imprisonment”.
She said even children could be jailed for rape, adding that for a child, the punishment could be 14 years in imprisonment.
Banigo said in 2018, the Protect the Girl Child Initiative, organized its first Mental and Sexual Abuse seminar at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Abuloma, where links about sexual violence and how to stop it and ensure that the voices of survivors were heard was set up.
According to the her, “At the seminar in Abuloma, a female student who had been violated repeatedly, since she was eight years old, came out, and the Protect the Girl Child Initiative, in the Office of the Deputy Governor was able to take her out of the environment, provided a safe home for her, and ensured that the perpetrator was reported to the police. Today, she is in her 200-level in the university”.
She added that, a similar programme for about 1,300 students was held at Holy Rosary College in 2018, where for the first time, many students understood what it means to be sexually abused, and realised that it was not the end of the world.
In his presentation on the topic, “Depression: How To Recognise And Deal With It”, a Consultant Neuropsychiatrist in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Dr. Chukwuma Oke Afor, said depression has to do with un-controlled sadness, lack of interest in the things the person used to love in the past as well as fatigue.
He also said inability to sleep; having a feeling of hopelessness and the desire to end one’s life are signs of depression, while noting that counselling by a trusted person could help to salvage the situation.
The representative from the Doctors Without Borders, Onyinye Anaba, who spoke on the topic, “Sexual Abuse and Where to find Help”, frowned at the situation whereby victims of sexual abuse are blamed for the crime instead of naming and shaming the perpetrators.

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