SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHT OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN NIGERIA
The sexual and reproductive health and right (SRHR) of women and girls is related to several human rights, such as the right to health, life, privacy, education, freedom from torture, and the prohibition of discrimination. As such, women’s right to health includes their sexual and reproductive health (SRH), which means that women are entitled to reproductive health care services, commodities, and facilities. Yet, the sexual and reproductive health and right of women and girls are constantly violated in the society. This occurs in different forms such as the denial of access to SRH services, poor quality service, subjection to early marriage and also Female Genital Mutilation without consent from the women and girls.
At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in 1994, it was agreed that women have the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. Unfortunately, this right is not upheld due to social norms and values placed on women’s sexuality, especially in Nigeria. Women are regarded as valuable in the family based on their ability to reproduce. They are often blamed most times for infertility or inability to produce a male child and this has an overwhelming effect on their health.
Many young women have very little information on their sexual and reproductive health as well as their right. According to WHO, many women and girls face different challenges such as unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. The National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) released in 2018 reported that girls contribute a higher percentage of the new cases of HIV in Nigeria. According to NDHS, 2018, women initiate sexual activity at an earlier age compared to their male counterpart, 19% of girls aged 15-19 years old were found to have begun childbearing and there was a high level of unmet need for contraceptive particularly among the unmarried women in Nigeria.
In a quest to improve access to services and information on sexual and reproductive health and right, HACEY Health Initiative developed an online platform, TOMBEY. TOMBEY is a combination of phone and web-based technology which makes access to sexual and reproductive health information and services handy for young people in Nigeria. It helps young people locate youth-friendly SRH centers that are close to them, identify the services that are available at these centers and allows them to access the services they need. HACEY also organizes outreaches within rural communities to sensitize girls on information on their sexual and reproductive health, during which they have the opportunity to check their HIV status.
Increased access to sexual and reproductive health information and services undoubtedly results in improved health outcomes enabling women and girls lead a healthy and productive life.