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International Women's Day: Advocating For Women's Health And Rights


 "And to echo the emotive truism, that a healthy mother will deliver a healthy nation for good, that "Iyaniwura" - a mother is worth more than gold, let us make our health budgets work for our mothers, their newborns, their children, their families, their communities, and our nation."  Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder-President of WBFA at AHAIC 2017
Today, to mark International Women's Day, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Mrs. Toyin Saraki participated in the Africa Health Agenda International Conference in Nairobi Kenya. The Conference brought together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, the private sector, advocates for health and civil society together to reflect on home-grown solutions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals across the continent.​
Mrs. Toyin Saraki alongside panelists at the AHAIC 2017 in Nairobi Kenya

As a panelist at AHAIC 2017, Mrs. Saraki was asked how Africa is accelerating the implementation of the SDGs. In her usual optimistic yet realistic self, she asserted: 

"Africa has enjoyed a somewhat greater focus and interest, for quick and sustained progress on the SDGs, as progress on this continent means progress for the world. Also, Africa is riding on the robust presence of the private sector on the continent, and this has helped spur projects and improved outcomes in health, education, agriculture and social entrepreneurship. Specifically, regarding health, the continent has benefitted from country-supported interventions, especially around the supply side of healthcare and health systems."

"Through Agenda 2063, a fifty-year development action plan adopted by all members of the African Union, continent-wide priorities have already been defined. This should make the process of integrating and achieving SDGs into countries' development plans much easier. There is a high degree of convergence between the SDGs and Agenda 2063, in part due to the Common African Position (CAP), the coordinated Africa-wide negotiating position that preceded formulation of the Global Goals. "

"Absolute poverty has declined on the continent, taking Africa one step closer to the fulfillment of the SDGs. However, the gap between rich and poor countries has grown. This is disheartening; yet, it provides a vast opportunity for developing countries, as it demonstrates that the medicine, technology, and knowledge needed for development already exist. If these things can be transferred to developing nations, we can accelerate the attainment of the SDGs. Through cooperation between domestic and international agencies, greater access to the basic commodities of the developed world can be made available to the benefit of Africa and the world. The knowledge is already there; we now need to take that knowledge and turn it into tangible results on the African continent.”

Mrs. SarakI also spoke about women and adolescent health and education. She stated that: "We must provide education to girls and young women about sexual and reproductive health. This is clearly outlined in SDG 3.  We must also ensure there is universal access to family planning information and education. Across Africa, we must make this a priority by integrating this into national strategies and programmes. Misinformation on sexual health and family planning combined with traditional attitudes towards childbirth and fertility lead to a range of complications, both during pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these could be prevented with the provision of basic education on sexual and reproductive health. In the absence of a formal education, local customs inform maternal health practices, often with fatal consequences. Even a basic understanding of hygiene, nutrition and child spacing could save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, and therefore should be made a priority in healthcare, and in the fulfillment of the SDGs as a whole."

"Secondly, we need to increase coverage of midwives in Africa; it is known that a 25% increase in the number of midwives could reduce maternal mortality by 50%. We know from our evidence from frontline
programmes at WBFA, that increasing the number of midwives has overwhelmingly positive outcomes for pregnant women. My organization has been working to educate midwives and community healthcare workers across Nigeria, teaching them to save a mother and child's life and also how to detect domestic violence and female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C)."

"We must address FGM/C urgently: Victims of FGM/C are at a hugely elevated risk of suffering a vaginal fistula;  as well as being at higher risk of domestic and gender violence. Additionally, a woman who is subjected to FGM is more likely to be married off as a child bride. Not only is child marriage a violation of a girl's rights, but girls who give birth before the age of 15 years are five times more likely to die during childbirth than women in their 30s. "

To end the panel discussion, Mrs. Saraki spoke about her hopes for change: "My dream is that every citizen is counted at birth. My dream is that every citizen is registered at birth. My dream is that every citizen is protected from vulnerability and has access to Primary Health!"
Other members of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa team took part in national events to celebrate the International Day of the Women, as well. This included representation at, and co-sponsorship of, the 2017 International Women’s Day Celebration, as hosted by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, with the theme: Women In The Changing World Of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030.

Represented by
Mrs. Bolanle Ibrahim,  Mrs. Saraki, stated that: " Women deserve the right to the same pay, treatment, and benefits as men. There needs to be a rapid change to close the pay gap internationally, we are 50% of the world and 50% of the working population in most countries. How does it make sense to pay less to a woman who does the exact same job as her male colleague? This needs to change now! We deserve the same pay and treatment, and we deserve it now! We stand in solidarity with all women today who are campaigning for a better tomorrow!" 
Also, Dr Luther-King Fasehun, Nigeria Country Director of WBFA, spoke at the 2017 International Women’s Day Roundtable, hosted by the African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), in collaboration with a varied array of partners such as Project Pink Blue (that works in cancer awareness and prevention), Vaccine Network for Disease Control, TechHer (a platform for motivating young girls and women to advance in information and communication technology), Active Voices (a youth-based CSO), amongst others. “The role of men and boys cannot be over-emphasised, if we must make progress in gender parity and strengthening the roles of women in the workforce. Men must see such great strides as good for them, as well, not just for women,” Dr Fasehun said.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa's Youth making a visit to a school and distributing hygiene packs.
The Wellbeing Foundation Youths also made a courtesy visit to Junior Secondary School Dutse Sagwagi, FCT Abuja led by Maryam Ibrahim and other volunteers who distributed the Wellbeing Foundation Africa's Adolescent Skills and Drills booklets, sanitary pads and also spoke to the students about menstrual hygiene. 
Leading up to International Women's Day, we have been dedicating our #MaternalMonday's to women's health and investment. Check our social media campaigns and messaging @wellbeingafrica and on #MaternalMonday.

Here are some of our tweets:
We have compiled a list of the women and men who have made tremendous changes in the development sector. Let's celebrate these great individuals!

Great Development Actions

Melinda Gates - Family planning + immunisation
Malala Yousafzai  - Girls education
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia - Ebola, peacebuilding
Joyce Banda - women in political leadership 
Helle Thorning- Schmidt- First female Prime Minister in Denmark and now saving vulnerable children
Mabel Van-Oranje - Girls Not Brides
Tsitsi Masiyiwa - Charity, higher life foundation scholarships
Princess Mary of Denmark - Fighting for women's rights in the West
Banderi Al'Faisal - First domestic violence campaign in Saudi Arabia
Sarah Brown - White Ribbon Alliance, 
Graca Machel- PMNCH, enduring tenacity
Jill Sheffield & Katja Iversen - Women Deliver
Cherie Blair: Women mentoring, entrepreneurship
HE Aisha Buhari: Resource mobilization for disaster relief ( #
Get Involved)
Amina Mohammed: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)architect
Baroness Scotland: Secretary General of Commonwealth Nations
Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway:  Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

Great Male Actions

Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote: immunisation and strengthening healthcare systems
Tony Elumelu: Entrepreneurship empowerment
Strive Masiyiwa: Leading Africa's connectivity and technology development
Bukola Saraki: Made in Nigeria Challenge, promoting economy revivals 
Chike Okafor: Primary Health Legislative Action in Nigeria
Jakaya Kikwete - Exemplary leadership
Jon Lomøy - Head of Norad, efforts with climate change and child mortality 


Read our Founder Mrs. Toyin Saraki's article today in Reuters on: 'International Women's Day: a chance to reflect on achievements and barriers to gender equality in Africa'
"There is good news on gender equality – if you look to the developing world" - Toyin Saraki
We ended last year, with a review on how far gender equality has come, check out our Founder Toyin Saraki's comment piece in the Guardian, where she noted that:

 Copyright © 2017 The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, All rights reserved.

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