BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja
The State of World Population (SWOP) Report, 2017, launched by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has placed Nigeria among countries with high rate of unintended pregnancies, with about 4million cases annually.
The report has blamed the situation on limited access to family planning which, it says, does not only harm women’s health, but also restrict their ability to move towards financial independence.
“Limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually. In Nigeria, it translates to about 4 million unintended pregnancies. This not only harms women’s health, but also restricts women’s ability to join or stay in the paid labour force and move towards financial independence,” the report stated.
In his goodwill message, UN resident coordinator, Edward Kallon, at the launch of the report, in Abuja, said this year’s report titled “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality”, is a reflection of the inequality in the provision of not only sexual and health care services, but also persistent inequalities in economic attributes on the basis of age, sex, and nature of resident.
According to him, unchecked inequality and failure to protect the rights of poorest women could undermine peace and world’s development goals.
“Only about half of the world’s women hold paid jobs. Globally, women earn 77 per cent of what men get. And three in five women worldwide lack maternity leave, many pay “motherhood penalty”. In Nigeria, the employment rate of men and women in urban area are of the ratio 42:37 per cent while the employment ratio of men to women in the rural area is 63:58 percent,” he stated.
He stressed that unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and development, adding that failure to provide reproductive health services, including family planning, to the poorest women can weaken economies and sabotage progress towards the number one sustainable development goal, to eliminate poverty.