Kaduna Govt. backs women’s rights to own body

The Deputy Governor, Kaduna State, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, on Wednesday said that the state government would support women and girls in the state to be able to say, “my body is my own.”

Balarabe stated this in Kaduna at the inauguration of the 2021 World Population Report, with the theme: “My Body Is My Own: Claiming the Right to Autonomy and Self-Determination.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with the Kaduna state Planning and Budget Commission (PBC).

The deputy governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Baloni, said that such conversation should be a song on the lips of every woman and girl in the state.

According to her, epowering women and girls to make decisions that affect their bodies without fear of repercussions, is the first step toward eliminating all forms of gender-based violence.

She said the state would to provide the necessary support to ministries, departments, agencies and partners that would be implementing programmes to empower women and girls in the state.

The deputy governor commended UNFPA for its leadership in supporting and coordinating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) actors in Nigeria and particularly, in Kaduna state.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission, Mr Thomas , noted the inherent right of every woman to make her own sexual and reproductive health choices without fear of any repercussions.

According to him, protecting the right to bodily autonomy is the foundation of empowerment and having a dignified life, particularly for women and girls.

“This is putting the power to make decisions on the choices of healthcare and medical services on the caprices of women.

“It should be the woman’s choice to decide when and with whom to have sex, when to have children or if to have them at all,” said.

The commissioner said that the state government had taken steps to encourage the participation of women in all works of life.

He stressed that to achieve this, government was poised to protect women from social and cultural practices that made them victims of stigmatisation, harassment, intimidation, violence, or assault.

On her part, Ms Mariama Darboe, Head of Office, UNFPA Decentralised for Northern Nigeria, Kaduna, explained that it was the first time the report was inaugurated in Kaduna state, outside Abuja.

Darboe explained that the report was a tool for a conversation on the empowerment of people to be their own agents in the protection of their bodies.

“This is to teach all parents, communities, particularly the young girls to be able to say, ‘this is my body; it is my own, to me by God. So, nobody should decide what happens to my body,” she said.

She added that the report was meant to encourage women and girls to say, “it is the government’s responsibility to protect me against all kinds of violence.”

The Deputy Director, Development Aid Coordination, PBC, Mrs Priscilla Dariya, said the report was inaugurated in the state to empower and educate young people on bodily autonomy and the content of the report.

Dariya added that the event was also to get feedback from relevant stakeholders on sexual reproductive health and rights and bodily autonomy.

“It was also to state and policymakers on the report and advocate a more enabling environment for gender equity and social inclusion,” she said. (NAN)