‘Women need sufficient info on sexuality’

From BRIAN MALAMA in New York, USA
THE Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLCH) says women and girls in developing countries need timely and sufficient information on sexuality and safe motherhood.
And First Lady Christine Kaseba is concerned that statistics indicate that close to 700 million women are married off before the age of 18 while 14 million girls are forced into early marriage before turning 13 in Africa and other developing countries.
Council chairperson Joy Phumaphi told a high-level task force meeting in here yesterday that women are ready to impact on the post-2015 development agenda on sexual and reproductive health and fundamental human rights.
“We are ready to make change forever. We have failed to recognise the fact that fundamental human rights and the protection of women and girls are as pivotal to economic development and poverty reduction,” Mrs Phumaphi said
She said unless sexual and reproductive health is addressed as an emergency, the fight against HIV and AIDS infections and maternal deaths will not yield desired goals.
Mrs Phumaphi said for as long a society continues to mutilate young girls and marrying them off to older men,  demographic and economic dividends will significantly be delayed by an estimated 50 years.
“Politicians in our countries should be wary of this threat, we are faced with lack of education among girls and early marriages, this will have a devastating impact on many economies, especially in Africa.
“Sustainable development will not happen without this area being addressed,” Mrs Phumaphi said.
And Dr Kaseba expressed concern that close to 700 million women are married off before the age of 18 while 14 million girls are forced into early marriage before turning 13 in developing countries.
Dr Kaseba is also concerned about the huge number of girls who have been unfairly treated through forced and early marriage.
“This trend is a global problem, 14 million is a population of countries and big cities. These figures have largely been attributed to Africa but this scourge is world over today,” Dr Kaseba said.
Addressing participants from over 40 countries at Westin Grand Central Hotel, Dr Kaseba urged stakeholders to work hard to reduce child marriage in order to achieve desired results of low maternal deaths.
“Once we have educated the girls; they will delay in many areas such as getting married but will instead get pregnant at the right time , therefore,  reducing maternal deaths, ” Dr Kaseba said.
She said there is need to avail girls with appropriate information on sexual reproductive health.
And former Malawian President Joyce Banda said she managed to reduce maternal deaths from over 600, 000 to 475, 000 within two years.
Mrs Banda urged all stakeholders to empower girls through education because that is the only effective way to reduce maternal deaths in Africa.

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