By Chioma Obinna
As Nigerian women joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s Mother’s Day, rightholders of Ngwo community, Enugu State, on the platform of The Voice Nigeria project implemented by Mothers and Marginalised Advocacy, MAMA, Centre, has called for increased policy environment to secure rights, equality and dignity of mothers in all spheres of life.
The group also noted the doggedness of Nigerian women, especially the rightholders, in giving life and hope to the younger generations despite the ongoing moment of socio-economic tension and uncertainty filled with greater discomfort at all levels.
According to the rightholders, the policy must ensure that the rights of women are protected through sincere political commitment in the area of representation, passage and assent into the Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill; with targeted political will for the adoption and full implementation of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act at all levels.
In a press statement jointly signed by rightholders’ leader and Champion, Ngwo Community, Mrs. Grace Oriaku and other Rightsholders members; Mrs. Ozorgwu Chinyere, Mrs Okwor Chinwedu, they also demanded for increased maternal health budgetary allocation, timely release, judicious utilisation and cash-backing to restore mothers’ dignity and rights.
“There is also the need for massive recruitment of additional skilled health care workers to efficiently administer maternal health care services at facility levels.
“We also call for more proactive policy actions for women empowerment to encourage self-reliance and socio-economic self-sustainability of women including rightsholders with holistically instituted reporting system/mechanism to ease and encourage complaints process and efficiently address reported cases of violence against women at all levels.
“We are not unaware of the related but under-reported dangers mothers undergo on daily basis both in pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria, where every 10 minutes one woman dies from conditions associated with childbirth with only 39% births take place with assistance of medically trained personnel, in addition to scarcity of skilled attendants, absence of personnel among other factors impeding effective maternal health care services.
“We are worried by the persistent discrimination mothers face at workplace during pregnancy with resultant undervalue, dismissal or demotion when they rejoin the workforce after giving birth and caring for their children. This intrinsic challenge continues to widen a lifetime of income inequality between men and women in all spheres.”
Continuing, they insisted that women at all spheres possess their own rights with potential, wisdom, talents and skill that they can contribute to develop the country; hence, the need for enabling policy environment for gender equality.
“Just as we applaud the immeasurable contributions of Nigerian mothers, particularly the rightholders who work tirelessly and within their little incomes go to great lengths in making sure that their children get an education, as it’s key to ending the existing cycle of poverty and opening up equal opportunities for girls and boys.
“We appreciate both hidden and open sacrifices endured by the rightholders, while nourishing socially-imposed burdens of motherhood and beyond.”
They commended the role of mothers across cultures, and rightholders in particular who in moment of economic downturn serve as the gatekeepers of food and nutritional security in their households and communities, while ensuring the availability, accessibility, management and utilization of food supplies.
“More girls go to school today than ever before, and more women are working, thanks to the mothers and sisters who marched on the streets, lobbied governments and drafted laws. New Zealand was the first self-governing country to grant national voting rights to women in 1893, and that stemmed from the activism of another mother, and its most celebrated suffragist, Kate Sheppard.”