The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday called on the Federal, State and Local Governments to implement laws and policies that would empower and guarantee women and girls’ bodily autonomy. The UNFPA Country Representative, Ms Ulla Muellar, made the call in Kaduna at the official launch of the 2021 State of the World Population Report.
Muellar, who was represented by the Deputy Representative, Erika Godson, said that this was the first time the report focuses on bodily autonomy – ‘the power to make choices about your body, without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you’. She added that women and girls need to be able to make fundamental choices about their bodies, gain their autonomy and advance in their health education, income and safety.
According to her, the denial of bodily autonomy is a violation of women and girls fundamental human rights. “This reinforces inequalities and perpetuates violence arising from gender discrimination and it is nothing less than an annihilation of the spirit and it must stop“.
A woman who has control over her body is more likely to be empowered in other spheres of her life by gaining not only in terms of autonomy, but also through advances in health and education, income and safety. “Only 55 per cent of women worldwide are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex,” according to the report being launched in Kaduna“. In Nigeria only 46 per cent of married women between the ages of 15 to 49, are able to make decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights”.
Muellar said that the report documents many ways that the bodily autonomy of women, men, girls and boys was violated. She said that UNFPA would continue to stand with the hundreds of thousands of others who were chronically kept from making autonomous decisions about their bodies.