The issue of sexual and reproductive rights critically concerns everyone, particularly women. The various issues on reproductive health and rights of women include vesico vaginal fistula (VVF), early and forced marriages, unsafe abortion/unwanted pregnancies, female genital mutilation, rape, incest, bride-price related violence, mortality rates, and nutritional taboos. All of these affect women’s health and rights. Most of these issues also contributes to high incidences of HIV/AIDS and therefore, hamper the possibility of achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) by 2015. In all, for rights of women and girls to be protected, men and young men also need to be sensitized, since they are often perpetrators of violence against women. However, the two issues below broadly need be taken into consideration, as a matter of fact, in the Nigerian society.
1. Human Rights:
In Nigeria, sexuality is scarcely discussed by parent with their young ones; in church and/or mosque, this attitude therefore, propels continued illiteracy on rights among young women. Young people particularly girls do not exercise their rights when it comes to issues on sexuality. Violence against women violates women’s rights to life, physical and mental integrity, to freedom from torture and it violates their sexual and reproductive rights. Upholding women’s human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, is essential to preventing and ending gender-based violence.
This is the case in Northern Nigeria where many women needs permission from husbands to attend local medical facility, thus, most women end up giving birth unattended, at home, and one in about ten women die either in pregnancy or childbirth.
2. Maternal Mortality:
For many young mothers across developing nations like Nigeria, what should be the happiest day of their lives becomes the last day of their lives, because every minute, a woman dies from complications in pregnancy or childbirth.
In recent years, there is an upsurge of young girls (aged 15-24) turn mothers, this result in an increase in maternal mortality rate where the country accounts for 10% globally, mainly because families in local areas lack adequate information. The Nigerian society needs bottom-up (local to urban) enlightenment on sexuality and reproductive health, using models that would guaranty sustainability of efforts.
Getting the Young Visionaries contest grant would help to educate many young women across Nigeria on sexuality and rights, as the technical assistance and manpower are already available.