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Protecting the heath and rights of women and girls

Jul 14, 2015, 9:24 AM

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is calling on the international community to redouble its efforts at protecting the health and rights of women and girls in our society.

It is making this call in observance of World Population Day, which fell on 11 July and is being celebrated in The Gambia through 16 July with a special symposium being held at Tendaba Camp, in the Lower River Region in The Gambia.

The state of women and girls is seriously pitiable as they undergo serious health condition and excruciating pain and suffering due to poverty and conflicts in our society, especially in Africa, where they face some of the most inhuman treatments in the hands of men and in conflict situations.

“A recent United Nations report warns that the number of forcibly displaced people has risen to a record number – almost 60 million at the end of 2014. Among these, most women and adolescent girls face particular threats as a result of the absence of health and other essential services that they need,” a UNFPA press release stated.

It continued: “Even under normal conditions, reproductive health complications are a leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. In humanitarian situations, an estimated one in five women and adolescent girls are likely to be pregnant. As skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable, pregnant women’s and girls’ vulnerability to death and injury is further exacerbated.

“Women and adolescent girls also face much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriage during conflicts and natural disasters. In addition, many women who survive a crisis become heads of household, with the sole responsibility of caring for their children. They often have to overcome immense obstacles to provide health and care for children, the sick, the injured and the elderly, and bear the heaviest burden of relief and reconstruction. As a result, they may neglect their own needs as they care for others.”

The above quoted statement by the UNFPA gives a clear picture of what women and girls undergo, especially in Third World countries such as in Africa’s.

It also clearly states that the complex emergencies they are responding to include protracted conflicts, “made worse by poor or failed governance, the consequences of climate change, and the engagement of extremist groups claiming territory, resources and power.”

It has, therefore, coined the theme for this year’s World Population Day as: “Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies”, with the intention of highlighting the special needs of women and adolescent girls during conflicts and humanitarian disasters.

Therefore, it is but important that all meaningful governments, institutions and people collaborate with the UNFPA to empower and safeguard the well-being of women, adolescent girls, and young people and address their specific needs and concerns.

“Population growth is straining the Earth’s resources to the breaking point, and educating girls is the single most important factor in stabilizing that. That, plus helping women gain political and economic power and safeguarding their reproductive rights...”
Al Gore