By Amina Brai Omoike
The Lagos Chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) on February 6, 2021, joined the rest of the world to commemorate 2021 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
This year’s theme was ‘No Time for Global Inaction: United, Fund, and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation’.
The Association had a zoom conference to commemorate the day with four guest speakers namely Alhaja Sururah Oyero, anti-FGM advocate; Costly Abosede Aderibigbe, a survivor and advocate; Dr. Oluwatosin Somefun, gender/RH analyst with UNFPA and Mrs. Mary Jane Ikechukwu-Nwobodo, Director, Reproductive Health, Ebonyi State Ministry of Health.
The guests were drawn from some of the states with high rate of FGM in Nigeria.
The guest speakers took turns in sharing their wealth of experience on the issues of Female Genital Mutilation.
Dr. Somefun who had worked in Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Imo, Rivers, and Bayelsa states on Sexual and Reproductive health issues affirmed that 20% of women from age 15 to 49 have gone through the pain of mutilation. She also emphasized that women who had gone through these should be seen as survivors and not victims.
Speakers also highlighted some health problems associated with FGM which include severe pain, excessive bleeding, mental health problem amongst others.
Ms. Aderibigbe shared her personal experience as a survivor and how she was able to pass through the phase to become an advocate in Osun state.
Dr. Somefun also advised the media to always speak up on these issues to curb the menace which most times leads to the death of young girls. According to her, the media should use their “pen and voice to ask people to be accountable. There should be naming and shaming for the perpetrators of the act.”
She encouraged NAWOJ to support and partner with UNFPA in other areas of Sexual and Reproductive Health. While giving her closing remark, the Chairperson, NAWOJ Lagos State chapter, Mrs Adeola Ekine called on members to give prominence to stories on FGM and other issues relating to women and girls in their reportage as a way to also help push for gender friendly policies, strong health institutions and bring offenders to book in the country.