“How We Invest In and Support Women and Girls Today Will Determine What Our World Will Look Like Years From Now” – Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin A Visual Journal by Gabriel Adeyemo

In recognition of the limited opportunities for surgical cure for women suffering with the complications of fistula, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2003, spearheaded the Global Campaign to End Fistula, to help prevent, treat, rehabilitate, and reintegrate women and girls to their communities.

In line with these objectives, in 2005, the UNFPA launched the Fistula Fortnight Initiative, which so far had performed about 7,500 fistula repair surgeries since inception.

In Nigeria, there is an estimated 12,000 new cases of Obstetric Fistula annually and approximately 150,000 women of reproductive age being affected (NDHS 2008).

According to UNFPA, the Fortnight initiative is said to be for advocacy, mobilizing support and expanding access to women and young girls for fistula treatment.

Obstetric Fistula continue to be a problem in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, affecting women of childbearing age during pregnancy and labor and resulting in debilitating urinary and/or fecal incontinence.

Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, undertook a high level advocacy visit to northern Nigeria on Improving the Health Outcomes, including Access to Education for Women and Girls.

They also attended the fifth graduation from vocational skills training of women and girls living with obstetric fistula in Kano state

and the Investiture of His Highness, Sarkin Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II as Grand Patron for Women and Children’s Health.

Whilst addressing the health outcomes of women and girls in Nigeria, it is worthy to note that the poor literacy rates in northern Nigeria is a key indicator, fueling the high maternal and child mortalities and morbidities in the region. 4% of girls completed secondary school in northern Nigeria and over 71% of women in the Northwest zone cannot read and write. This is significantly in contrast to the Southeast zone at 9.7% (NDHS 2013).

As girls grow into adolescents, gender disparity widens

Faced with sociocultural norms of their societies and the risks of violence, as early as age 10, many are child bride, forced into early childbearing and labour, female genital mutilation and other unsafe practices that threaten their lives well-being.

Fulfilling their potentials becomes impossible.

In Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, it is estimated that 53% of internally displaced person are women and girls, whose reproductive health need to be protected urgently.

“We should work towards getting girls to go to school and stay in school” – Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin
“Our aim is to redouble efforts to ensure that their rights to access health care is protected and the Government have all the support they need to overcome overwhelming challenges” said Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s Executive Director.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Gadunje, pledged to initiate steps to ending child bride, legally set the age of marriage at 18 and ensure that girls stayed in school.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, unveiled a technical brief on the demographic dividend in his state
“Kaduna has a youthful population with about 80% below the age of 35 years. The decision to ignore or harness their potential will determine if the population will be a liability or an asset. By this unveiling, we have initiated steps to do the latter” said Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State Governor.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State thanked the UNFPA for its humanitarian assistance and committed to protecting the rights of women and girls and their access to education and reproductive health care.

Prof. Osotimehin and Senator Alhassan visited the internally displaced persons’ camp in Dalori, Borno State.

“For women and girls, especially pregnant women, who may probably face life-threatening childbirth complications, as well as lactating women, caring for newborns throughout the chaos, whether they live or die in a crisis often depends on their access to basic sexual and reproductive health services. But, too often, these needs take a back seat to other urgent needs, like food and shelter” – prof. Babatunde Osotimehin

They met with His Highness Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, the Shehu of Borno, who reiterated his commitment to use his position to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.

It is hoped that this joint mission will strengthen and leverage strategic partnership to ensure that UNFPA support and creates synergies with the programmes of the Nigerian Government.

UNFPA remains committed to the full realization of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women and girls in all conditions, crises or otherwise, at all times.

Writer/Editor: Gabriel Adeyemo; Twitter/Instagram: @vinnydrey;

Facebook: Gabriel Adeyemo Oludrey

Photographers: Simi Vijay; Gabriel Adeyemo

Created By
Gabriel Adeyemo


UNFPA Nigeria @UNFPANigeria; International Society of Media in Public Health @ISMPHNG.

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