THE Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Natalia Kanem has promised to support the Nigerian government on programmes aimed at combating gender-based violence and advocating for the rights of women and the girl child.
Kanem spoke during an interactive session with newsmen at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Sunday.
She said the agency was working to ensure that family planning services could be accessed by women and adolescent girls in need.
“When you have a big population, the worries that families have about raising children, educating them properly, putting shoes on their feet and being sure they come off with those values that our traditional and modern landscape demands means that women wish to choose the size of their families and UNFPA is there to assist them and ensure that they are fully backed by the government of Nigeria and by the states in the country,” she said.
According to her, the UNFPA also wanted to ensure that contraceptives were made available to all women and female adolescents.
Stressing the need for gender equality, she said, “we want to have a world where no mother dies while giving birth and it is extremely important for the family, for the community, and for the country.
“Gender equality plays a huge role in our ability to educate the young girl and raise her up through secondary school; it plays an important role in every 10-year-old girl in Nigeria understanding that to protect her future she also has to protect her livelihood, her body, her mind and moreover that conditions which lead to tragic circumstances like VVF (vesicovaginal fistula) must be overcome by a caring family that understands that early pregnancy is detrimental to the life of the girl and the woman.”
The UNFPA would equally assist Nigeria to get to zero gender-based violence, Kanen said.
She described gender-based violence as a tragic circumstance and a crime affecting one out of three Nigerian women and girls.
The UNFPA boss appealed to Nigerian men to protect women and the girl child.
She also appealed to fathers to ensure that the rights and dignity of female children were upheld.
Kanem, in the same vein, appealed to women across the nation to join hands in solidarity and teach their children “from the cradle that everyone is equal, and that girls need to be respected and loved.”
Responding to a question from a journalist concerning the punishment for sex offenders particularly incest, Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development Paulen Talen commended the Kaduna State government for amending the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law to include castration as punishment for offenders.
The minister said she supported castration as punishment for any perpetrators caught.
“if we do one and two (castrations), the rate of incest and rape will drop. That is why we are insisting that all states must ensure that they domesticate the VAPP Act and the Child Rights Act and not just domesticating them but also ensuring proper implementation,” the minister added.
Blessing Otoibhi is a Multimedia Journalist and Anchor host for the News in 60 seconds at The International Center For Investigative Reporting. You can shoot her a mail via Botoibhi@icirnigeria.org or connect on Twitter @B_otoibhi