FULL TEXT: Speech by NPC Chair, Hon. Kwarra on Commemoration of 2023 World Population Day
I welcome and express my gratitude to all gentlemen of the Press and other distinguished Stakeholders for honoring our invitation to this year’s World Population Day (WPD) Press Briefing, commemorated under the theme “Unleashing the Power of Gender Equality: Uplifting the Voices of Women and Girls to Unlock Our World’s Infinite Possibilities.”
2. The theme draws from the world’s attainment of the 8 billion population mark, addresses SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and connects with issues highlighted in this year’s State of the World Population Report (SWOP), we launched a few weeks back. It also, urges Member States including Nigeria to ensure vulnerable population groups, particularly women and girls have chances to express their rights and have indiscriminatory access to make choices in a world of 8 billion people.
3. Our population is currently estimated at slightly over 216 million, placing Nigeria as the sixth most populated nation in the world. Nigeria was listed among the nine countries in the world whose rapid population growth contributed to the 8 billion reach on November 15th, 2022. Also, predictions show that the expected half of the global population growth between now and 2050 will be from the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region and Nigeria will be a major contributor to that regional growth driven by past/existing momentum growth.
4. Women and Girls represent almost (49.7%), half of our entire population. However, this unique population group, more often are neglected across all societies and communities and are not accorded the deserved attention and experience limited access to opportunities.
5. The context of this year’s commemoration is a reminder that arouses attention and which requires actions that will facilitate the sustainable creation of opportunities that will empower women and girls for a secure future for all.
6. Addressing the perspectives of women and girls’ Rights and Choices to pave the way for achieving SDG 5 “Achieving Gender Equity” – entails:
o Securing unlimited Access to quality formal education and being well-educated in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), including acquiring livelihood skills and entrepreneurship;
o Securing planned and organized Access to decent work and employment outside the home and enjoying equal wages at par with their male counterpart to achieve economic empowerment;
o Involvement in decision-making roles in many aspects of life, including leadership positions;
o Undisruptive access to quality and affordable health care services including maternity services plus sexual and reproductive health care services;
o Protection from marginalization and exclusivity at all levels, space and spheres;
o To enjoy life/living free from all forms of discriminatory laws, customs/norms and culture that limits their potential including protection from gender-based violence and harmful practices like early/child/forced marriages that most time, result in unintended pregnancies that usually disrupt their education (most times for life), as well as expose their body to incontinent/inconvenience like Fistula and maternal deaths;
o The right to reproductive choices – chose when to marry, when to start having children, decide freely the number and spacing of children without any coercion or compulsion and discrimination; which is embedded in –
o Rights to correct, detailed information about equitable access to family planning and family health and life education (in the language and terms they understand to help make informed choices);
7. The extent to which this Rights is promoted and exercised, explains the impact of fertility on the social well-being of the population, particularly of women, adolescent girls and young people.
8. Therefore, “Unleash the Power of Equality” is embedded in investing in and creating equitable access to quality education as necessary and sufficient conditions to allow women and girls opportunities to exercise their rights and choices. Thus, empowering women and girls is fundamental for achieving enduring peace, progress and prosperity in Nigeria and the world at large.
9. Achieving Gender Equality, remains a task that must be done. It therefore behoves all of us (government, parliamentarians at all levels, stakeholders, civil society organizations; traditional and religious leaders, the media, donors, and partners) to secure and guarantee the empowerment of women and girls by lifting their voices across the nation so that they can be heard, acknowledged and responded to.
10. Above all, the responsibility lies first with the Government to prioritize decisions and actions that provide women and girls all the opportunities through education, health-care services, jobs, resources and services to guarantee they are exercising these Rights and Choices. This is inclusive of those living with disability, irrespective of where they reside.
11. I am hoping beyond doubt, that our dear President who in his maiden speech, expressed commitment to addressing women’s issues as one of his top priorities, will ensure Nigeria fulfills that commitment to realize the Power of Gender Equality, make progress on SDG 5, achieve population management and significant demographic transition.
12. As I conclude, I seize this opportunity to thank the UNFPA Resident Representative, Her Excellency, Ulla Elizabeth Mueller for the support she engendered for Nigeria in the implementation of all aspects of Population and Development activities. Her commitment and support to ensure Nigeria conducts an excellent population and housing census are unparalleled. Thank you, my dear friend. Also, I wish to inform all that Ulla, will be leaving Nigeria soon, as she has concluded her assignment here. So, this is one of her concluding engagements. Ulla’s remarkable contributions and advice that have enhanced our work in the Commission and in other sectors across the nation will remain indelible in Nigeria and in our minds.
13. Today heralds a week of activities to mark this year’s World Population Day in Nigeria. I implore every one of us to support the implementation of activities to mark the event through various media platforms/channels and in various languages to sensitize the populace and targeted population on the theme – emphasizing what benefits us together, when we unleash the willpower to achieve gender equality in Nigeria.
14. The Main event to commemorate World Population Day, will hold on July 11th at Reitz Continental, Abuja from 11:00 am prompt. This will be cascaded to all 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at a date to be communicated soon in the due course of the event.
15. I implore you all to participate fully, organize conversations and quality engagements, provide good coverage of the activities, and report adequately to all Nigerians on the importance of the theme through your various platforms.
16. Thank you for coming and for your attention.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!