Group advocates for increased access to quality maternity services

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Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN) has called for increased access for women to quality maternity services and education to reduce maternal mortality rate and ignorance among women in Nigeria.

MWAN National President, Dr Lillian Otolorin, made the call at a news conference in Ibadan on Wednesday to commemorate the 2023 International Women’s Day.

Otolorin said that the association aligned with the theme: “Embrace Equity”, which was aimed at challenging gender stereotypes, discrimination, drawing attention to bias and seeking women’s inclusion.

“For far too long, there has been more focus on gender equality and less on equity. Both terminologies have been used interchangeably because of lack of understanding of what they mean.

“While equality means that each individual or group is given the same resources or opportunities, equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and, therefore, allocates the resources and opportunities they need for them to reach equal outcome.

“If we are to embrace equity for our girls and womenfolk in Nigeria, we must create unique opportunities and provide the needed resources that will enable them to reach equal goal either in education, health job placement or politics,” she said.

According to her, women have five per cent access to health, adding, however, that more should be done to reduce maternal mortality rate and increase access to the right doctors they need at any given time.

Otolorin also stressed the need to strengthen basic education and provide access to every woman to be educated.

“Our women remain victims of gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, rape, child marriage, forced prostitution, kidnapping for ransom and ritual murder for money.

“From the health point of view, our women continue to bear the brunt of global procreation to keep the human race from becoming extinct.

“In Nigeria, up to 576 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth out of every 100,000 live births and 95 per cent of these deaths are quite preventable through the use of low cost high impact interventions.

“In 2017, WHO estimated that 67,000 Nigerian women died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

“Unfortunately, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of economic empowerment, myths and misconceptions combine to limit women’s access to quality maternity services,” she said.

MWAN national president also said that studies had shown in education sector that 60 per cent of the 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria were girls who enrolled and dropped out early.

She urged women to be more intentional in seeking positions that could help them to influence issues concerning them.

“As I stated last year, gender inequality in Nigeria remains a big challenge and is influenced by different cultures and beliefs.

“In most parts of the country, women are considered subordinate to their male counterparts.

“They (women) account for most of Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment, estimated to earn only 77 cents (N577) for every dollar (N750) that men get for the same work.

“Low perceptions of the value of education for girls and early marriages are among the reasons for this gender disparity, which later translates into economic and job disparities,” she said.

Otolorin, however, urged the incoming government to ensure the fulfillment of the 35 per cent affirmative action by including women in all executive and advisory councils.

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