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Archive for February, 2012

“A Common Challenge Requires a Common Purpose”

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

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My thanks to Fashion 4 Development (Evie and Franca), the United Nation’s and Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini for the honor of being invited to this momentous occasion, in welcoming the fashion industry to the Every Woman Every Child effort.

In May 2011 when the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited Nigeria, he spoke of the importance of partnership between government, business and civil society, saying ‘when they are united in a tripartite partnership, we can make it’.

I too believe that a common challenge requires a common purpose and it is for that reason that I have embraced the Secretary General’s Call To Action for Maternal Newborn and Child Heath within my Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s Countdown to 2015 Millennium Development Goal Campaign.

To amplify this, The Wellbeing Foundation and I strive to be a catalyst for the Every Woman Every Child effort in Africa to save the lives of 16million women and children globally.  My own personal experience is a testimony to the fact that while there are no socio-economic boundaries reducing the universal challenges hampering the achievement of safe motherhood for all women in Africa, an empowered and educated woman is a health-seeking woman, for herself, her family and her community.  We therefore must connect with women themselves and empower them to effect the change necessary for better outcomes.

On this journey that I’ve been on for over 20 years, the fashion industry has a unique role to play because of:

1. Obvious connection women have to fashion, which present a great opportunity to utilize this channel to communicate with us and thereby mobilize efforts.

2. In Africa women are very much at the forefront of the fashion industry from the young lady creating jewelry in her bedroom to the market women trading traditional fabricsat bustling markets, and the emerging sophistication of contemporary fashion houses particularly in Nigeria. Fashion is an avenue to empower women and enable us to provide socio-economic freedom, which we know has an impact on women and their children’s wellbeing.

I welcome Fashion 4 Development’s commitment to this most important effort of our time and stand ready to partner to create synergies in order to save and improve the lives and wellbeing of every woman and every child.

Wellbeing Foundation Africa Founder Congratulates Thisday Award Recipients

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

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H.E Mrs ToyinSaraki, Founder-President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Advisory Board Member of Cherie Blair’s Africa Justice Foundation (AJF), has congratulated the 55 Women of Distinction honoured at the 17th Annual Thisday Awards Event held in Lagos on February 13th 2012.

Speaking from New York where the notable humanitarian and advocate had attended the formal ceremony to receive the highly valued Fashion 4 Development Commitment to the United Nations Every Woman Every Child Effort from Goodwill Ambassador and Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani, Mrs Saraki said that the recognition of the awardees exemplifies the fact that women are successfully leading increasingly influential roles in all facets of society, including business, politics, entrepreneurship, public policy and social development.

“I am so encouraged to see that Nigerian women are engaging at the highest levels of distinction in business, politics and leadership in the 21st century. We have indeed come a long way. The honourees have persevered and excelled in their chosen fields of endeavour and are worthy of double honour, not only because of what they have achieved, but because as women in a world dominated by men, it often takes twice as much time and effort as their male counterparts to attain great heights.”

Mrs Saraki, the former First Lady of Kwara State, congratulated her fellow former colleagues, Their Excellencies Erelu Angela Adebayo of Ekiti State, Chief Mrs. EkiIgbinedion of Edo State and Distinguished Senator Zainab Kure of Niger State and also Kwara’s very own indigenous daughter Hajiya Bola Shagaya a foremost business woman, for their  respective contributions to humanity, particularly in the lives of women and children, while she warmly welcomed the keynote speakers, Cherie Blair QC of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Africa Justice Foundation and Former American President Bill Clinton of the Clinton Global Initiative, in recognition of their sincere dedication towards development in Africa.

The WBF Africa President finally commended Thisday Newspaper and its Publisher, Prince Nduka Obaigbena for the organisation’s stellar role in inspiring effective media focus upon civil society issues, saying “Thisday continues to provide leadership in the media through innovation, creativity and uncommon intelligence, adding transformational texture to our national experience.”

H.E Mrs ToyinSaraki is in New York in her capacity as the leader of the Nigeria Multi-Sector Engagement in support on the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child Effort, which was launched in Nigeria by The Wellbeing Foundation Africa in July 2011.

Yomi Owope, Communications Director, The Wellbeing Foundation Africa. 13-02-2012

 

Evidence Shows that Childbirth Complications Linked to Female Genital Mutilation

Monday, February 6th, 2012

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Ahead of the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation marked yearly on February 6th, a review of the evidence by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Countdown to 2015 MDG Campaign shows that the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria continues to pose great risks for millions of women, young girls and their infants during and after birth.

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is founded in traditional beliefs about female chastity, initiation into womanhood and even the mistaken belief that it helps delivery of babies. UNICEF estimates that there are 115 to 130 million circumcised women worldwide. In African countries, more than 90 million girls and women over the age of 10 years are estimated to have undergone FGM, and around 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure each year. Nigeria in the past had the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world, accounting for about one quarter of the total number of circumcised women. But advocacy, sensitisation and legislation have driven down the numbers in recent years. Nevertheless the practice continues unchecked in many parts of the country, with Oyo and Ebonyi States recording as high as 83% prevalence as recently as 2008.

In the statement in commemoration of this year’s FGM Day, the Foundation affirmed that the risk of dying during childbirth increases greatly for both the mother and the infant if the mother has been genitally mutilated, and that interventions on maternal mortality often do not adequately address the problem of female genital mutilation.

“The World Health Organisation FGM obstetric outcome journal 2010 (a collaborative prospective study in six African countries) has established that women with FGM are significantly more likely than those without FGM to have adverse obstetric outcomes, with a significant number having obstructed labour, postpartum haemorrhage and extended hospital stay. Also, FGM is estimated to lead to extra one or two perinatal deaths per hundred deliveries. It is therefore very essential that FGM is not ignored when addressing the problem of maternal mortality in Africa.”

The weight of evidence has informed the foundation’s position that FGM of any type “is a violation of the human rights of women and girls, with proven psychosexual consequences. It is known to cause blood-borne diseases and infection, including painful menstruation and infertility. The risks are evident in the huge number of trauma cases we witness each year, and its eradication calls for urgent attention from all concerned to put a stop to this painful and gruesome practice.”

The Foundation therefore called on government and all stakeholders in maternal, newborn and child health to pay greater attention to FGM and enforce the corrective measures embarked upon in the past few years in addressing practice.
“Advocacy and sensitization programs must continue and legislations at the federal and state levels outlawing all forms of FGM should be enforced; other gaps that aid in the perpetration of the practice in Africa should be addressed as part of a holistic approach to women’s and children’s health,” the Foundation said.