Vision Spring Initiative since March 2019 through consultancy services is partnering with North East Regional Initiative (NERI) on a USAID funded project to support ending violent extremist attacks in Bornu and Adamawa states. In Northern Nigeria, women and girls are being exposed under a terrible system of marginalization. They struggle economically and socially through many traditions and cultural practices, not given opportunity to contribute to many mainstream societal processes ranging from peace building, health, education, politics and economic ventures.
With the ongoing insurgency the condition of community women here can best be described as pathetic and unfortunate. They are fenced out of basic community peace building processes and incumbered with the need to provide shelter and care for the household. This Political , Social and Economic insecurities has been a major portal through which ISIS-WA have forced some vulnerable women to become suicide bomb machinery and suppliers of logistics fueling the insurgency. The role of women in building peace has been undermined; their voices has been muted by pre-existing traditions and the raging insurgency. We are excited to be partnering with NERI towards changing this narrative.
Unsafe abortions are one of the most significant and preventable contributions of maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria. Research carried out by the Guttmacher Institute in partnership with the university of Ibadan, reported that 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in 2012 alone. On the other hand, evidence from a consultant OB/GYN at the University Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada reported that unsafe abortions contribute to at least 13% of maternal deaths in the country yearly. He also reported that over 450,000 unsafe abortions were carried out yearly in Nigeria.
In the light of this discovery, vision spring initiative and the beneficiaries of its Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) training launched the #mybodymyright on the 8th of March, to commemorate the international women’s’ day celebration. We had two print media teams and one radio media present.
We had the honour of having the Chairman of Nigerian Union Journalists (NUJ), Dr. Qasim Akinreti. In his words he said womanhood is our pride. He salutes our courage and steadfastness in the pursuit of eradicating ancient laws that has handicapped our progress in the area of sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls in our country. He promised to partner with us to ensure the #mybodymyright reaches a wider range of girls and women in the country.
The press release statement was read by Imisi Johnson, one of the SRHR beneficiaries, she stated clearly the demands the campaign centres on and what is expected from the government after the campaign. Few of demands included:
Improved access to safe SRHR services by removing legal restrictions and ensuring that services are safe and accessible to all women who need them in a timely manner.
Address in a systematic way the various forms of abuse faced by the adolescent girl in the home and society.
Vision Spring Initiatives partnering with POSITIVE ACTION FOR TREATMENT ACCESS and others visited a total of four (4) health service centres toward ensuring that robust services are provided to service recipients. Some of the services received at the centres visited include: Family planning, HIV Counselling and Testing, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, Counselling, TB treatment (DOT). Facilities visited include Onigbongbo LCDA, Oregun LCDA and General Hospital Epe. Some of the successes of the services provided as recorded by our staff include:
have strong referral system, treat all cases from other smaller units
Have record of all cases treated and registered monthly, sex and age disaggregated
Patients attended to timely and in a professional manner
Provide robust VCT services
Follow up with patients
Training beneficiaries are staff of the centre, so sustainability is ensured.
Some of the challenges recorded included the following:
Lack of drugs; there is constant drug stock out
Follow up is a challenge, there is high migration of patients
The protocol and processes before drugs are procured is worrisome
From February to November 2017, Vision Spring Initiative through consultancies built the capacity of 15 nascent CBOS on proposal Writing, governance, Safety and Security, Human Rights Education and Resource Mobilisation. These trainings were geared towards building the capacities of these organisations to support service delivery to its constituencies under the Global Fund new Funding Model.
The goal of the project was to enhance beneficiary’s capacity on SRHR decision making and subsequently become advocates on SRHR issues at their various areas of influence.
The objective of the project which was collation of entries, award ceremony and training on ending unsafe abortion include the following:
● Promote sexual and reproductive health knowledge amongst adolescents aged 18-24. ● Partner with adolescents to end all forms of abortion stigma ● Create awareness on the challenges of unsafe abortion and build capacity and knowledge of beneficiaries to reach out to peers ● Enhance capacity of young persons to commence advocacy for repeal of negative abortion laws in partnership with Vision Spring Initiatives ● Increase knowledge on safer sex practices which will ultimately be stepped down to other adolescents, leading to reduced unsafe abortion and stigma.
Our greatest lesson was the desire of young people to be equipped with information. During the award ceremony, we had to spend extra two hours responding to SRHR needs of young people. We also realized that young people have been socialized to think that abortion stigma is necessary to stop young people from engaging in abortion.
We are planning to make the event either a yearly or biennial event. The first prize of laptop computer was won by an undergraduate of Yaba College of Technology who is very excited to own a laptop computer to facilitate her course work. The second prize winner is a youth activist is really excited, while the third winner is a fresh undergraduate of University of Lagos and currently interning with the organisation. We will like to be able to do more in the coming year and keep building knowledge on safe abortion and how girls can support themselves instead of stigma.
Poem by Tobi-First prize winner I am unashamed:By Oluwatobi Ayodele I am unashamed I am uncompromising I am bold I am compassionate
I care for myself I care for my health I care for my future I care for my family!
I walk out fearless Fearless of the discrimination Fearless of the hate Fearless of the stigma!
Stigma that comes before abortion Stigma that comes after abortion Stigma that comes the month after and the year after Stigma that stays for life!
But do you know I am a woman as you are? That I have rights as you do? That I have beliefs as you do? That I have a future as you do?
And I need support not shame I need comfort not comments I need love not rejection I need understanding not judgements!
And that abortion is safe And it doesn’t make me less feminine That abortion is clean and healthy And it should be legalized not stigmatised!
Enough of the stigma! Enough of the discrimination! Enough of the negativity! Enough of the hate!
I stand to raise awareness of our rights and advocate for the adoption and implementation of laws and policies to legalize abortion in our country and mobilising girls and women against all forms of stigma!!!