By Asmau Ahmad
The National Population Commission (NPC), in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other stakeholders on Wednesday called for renewed commitment to the promises made at Nairobi Summit in 2019.
The Executive Chairman of NPC, Alhaji Isa Kwarra, made the call in Abuja at the second anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which held in Kenya, otherwise called the Nairobi Summit, with the theme: “No Exception, No Exclusions.”
Kwarra said that the anniversary offered an opportunity for renewed political and financial commitment aimed at achieving the transformative goals.
He added that “the commemoration of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25+2), reminds us of the political and financial commitments made in Nairobi.
“It also reminds us of the consensus reached 48 months ago to foster partnerships for effective delivery on achieving the transformative goals that underscore the essence of the 2030 Agenda through the attainment of the three zeros.
“The three zeros are — zero preventable maternal mortality, zero unmet need for Family Planning and zero Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices.”
The NPC chairman said that that the commemoration was a roadmap to identifying gaps, reporting gains, financing and taking actions to ensure undisrupted access to sexual and reproductive health information, counselling and services to women and adolescents.
He highlighted capturing of the three zeros among the targets of the approved Revised National Policy on Population for sustainable Development (NPP) and preparedness for the next census.
The chairman, however, raised alarm over the omission of specific funding for family planning in the proposed 2022 budget and threat of population explosion.
He, therefore, expressed the determination of the commission to continue to partner the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and relevant stakeholders committed to the affirmations at Nairobi.
The Summit captured the 12 global overarching commitments, encompassed in three transformative goals — an end to preventable maternal mortality; zero unmet need for contraceptives, and ending Gender-Based Violence and harmful practices.
It highlights critical and urgent issues including increase financing at national and international level for the conclusion of young people into all decisions and conversations that affect them, particularly their health and well-being; developing quality and disaggregated data, and ensuring equitable access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
Meanwhile, the High-Level Commission on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up launched its first report in New York on November 15, 2021.
In its report, “No Exceptions. No Exclusions”, the Commission finds progress on some commitments, but overall notes a harrowing setback in sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world, and called for ambitious, deliberate and comprehensive action to achieve sexual and reproductive justice for all, particularly for women and girls.
Ms Ulla Muller, the Country Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, identified inability to access sexual and reproductive health services as one of the leading causes of death for women and girls in humanitarian settings.
Muller said that child marriage was more common among girls who were poor and less educated.
She blamed the setback on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which had taken a staggering toll on the provision of health services particularly sexual and reproductive health services.
She explained that it had consequently impacted women and girls’ well-being globally and Nigeria was currently experiencing the third wave.
She noted that “the pandemic’s compelling economic impacts have been felt mostly by women and girls, who generally earn less, hold less secure jobs, and face a greater risk of losing their livelihoods or descending into poverty.
“In essence, it has had a profound impact on the capability of women and girls toward contributing their quota to development and to claim and exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.”
The UNFPA Country Representative said that the commemoration offered opportunity to reignite and accelerate efforts to keep to the commitments made at the ICPD held in Cairo 25 years ago.
She said that to achieve the 2030 sustainable development agenda of leaving no one behind, “our women and girls need to be able to have full control over their bodies and lives without any fear of repercussion or violence.”
Muller warned that denying women and girls of these rights was capable of impeding their ability to achieve their full potential and consequently a toll on socio economic and sustainable development in the country.
She quoted UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem, as saying “sexual and reproductive justice is how we realise sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, for good.
Muller, who commended the Federal Government of Nigeria and all partners for the progress made so far, reassured of UNFPA’s solidarity in pushing for inclusion and equality for all, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She, however, said “we have an unfinished business in pursuing rights and choices for all.”