By Ikenna Osuoha
Alhaji Isa Kwarra, the Executive Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC) has called for increased support for women and girls’ bodily autonomy.
Kwarra made the call at a news conference on the State of the World Population (SWOP) with the theme “My body is my own: Claiming the Right to Autonomy and Self Determination” in Abuja on Monday.
The NPC chairman emphasised the need for women and girls to make choices about their bodies, including when to marry.
He said “denying women and girls right of bodily autonomy translates to denying them rights to choices that shape their existence.
“Women and girls should have right to decide when to start having children, how to space the births of the children, decide on the number of children they wish to have.”
Kwarra, who described women’s equitable access to healthcare services without fear or violence as inalienable rights of women, condemned coercion or the practice of having someone else to decide for them.
He frowned at the practice of allowing women and girls face constraints in exercising their rights from birth to opportunities of taking decisions that should shape their lives and future.
He emphasised the importance of education for women and girls, noting that investing in girls’ education was the most effective way of generating significant economic return and progress of nations.
He reiterated the need for upholding bodily autonomy for women and girls to enhance Nigeria’s prospects to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr Lawal Idris, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Population, commended the National Population Commission (NPC) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for timely launch of SWOP.
Idris promised to continue to work in synergy with both the population commission and the UNFPA toward giving women and girls access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHS) essential for attaining Demographic Dividends (DD).
According to him, girl child education is paramount in the development of the country.
Ms Buky Williams, the Executive Director, Education as Vaccine (EVA), stressed the need for women and girls to access education, noting that the measure would assist in ending child marriage and its consequences.
Williams regretted that child marriage and women’s denial of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights was responsible for high maternal mortality.