Schools Closure: NPC Raises Alarm Over Early Marriage, Abortion

The National Population Commission (NPC), has said the continued closure of schools across Nigeria due to the coronavirus pandemic, means that more girls are likely to drop out of school through early marriage and unwanted pregnancy and abortion.

Acting chairman of the commission, Dr. Tayo Oyetunji, said this in a press conference to commemorate 2020 World Population Day with the theme: “Putting the breaks on COVID-19: How To safeguard the health and Right Of Women And Girls Now,” in Abuja.

National population commission mark this year world population day in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria.

According to him, In the absence of schooling, more girls are likely to drop out of school and other consequences could include early marriage and high fertility, morbidity and maternal mortality, abortion, low self- esteem.

He said, “Nutrition is among the causes of anemia, and anemia is a major concern among women, leading to increased maternal mortality and poor birth outcomes as well as reductions in work productivity.

“Over half (58%) of women age 15-49 have some degree of anaemia. Twenty eight percent each are mildly anaemic and moderately anaemic, and 2% are severely anaemic. The COVID-19 may have led to higher proportion of malnourished women, girls and children.

“COVID-19 did not make it easy for women to access and utilize reproductive health facilities especially as the logistics of getting to health facilities were negatively impacted.

“This situation could have worsened the already high maternal mortality rate of 556 (CI: 484-629) deaths per 100,000 live births” he said.

He said that recently, federal government announced approved a total stimulus package of N2.3 trillion to cushion the effect of coronavirus pandemic on the economy, adding that the package is expected to address the needs of both formal and informal sectors.

He call on all stakeholders to join hands to ensure that women and girls are protected, respected, catered for and given equal opportunity with men and boys.

In her remarks, Country Representative of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Elisabeth Muller, “This year alone, an estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation. Since that research estimates that Nigeria accounts for one-quarter of female genital mutilation globally, it means in Nigeria alone, 1, 025, 000 women will undergo female genital mutilation.

“Today, 33, 000 girls under the age of 18 will be forced into marriages usually to much older men. One in five females married today in Nigeria is underage.

“About 19 per cent of women between 15 and 19 have begun child bearing. About 14 per cent would have given birth and four per cent are pregnant with their first child,” she said.

(Leadership online)