The woman is strong, resilient, and formidable, it doesn’t matter where she is from, what she has been through or what she believes and we at TKI celebrate all women today and always. A woman have braved storms bequeathed to her from generations past and still forges her way through immediate obstacles in her life’s journey. On a daily basis women are faced with unique challenges that stem from our biological realities most notably menstrual hygiene management. She is also belaboured by external factors which are out of her control and adversely affect her wellbeing. They include but are not limited to water sanitation and hygiene challenges, challenges which are off shoots of open defecation. Some of these challenges ride on the waves of others. Perhaps the most unsettling, women are plagued with the risk of kidnap, rape, sexual exploitation, wildlife attack, gender based violence and marginalization in her efforts towards managing these challenges.
The myriads of issues confronting women folk shows that more effort needs to be dedicated towards eradicating them or bring them to the barest minimum. So we at TKI raise our hand high and choose to challenge the status quo as they relate to women health and wellbeing.
Challenges Women Face in The Covid-19 Pandemic
Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted many economies negatively but its impact on different demography varies. The pandemic exposed the female gender to a plethora of predicaments. The global lock down made period poverty worse as access to sanitary pads for young girls and women became a daunting task. Economic limitations resulting from the halt in commercial activities meant that there was no purchasing power to meet this need especially from low income families or agrarian communities, a challenge most times seen as trivial by other family members and even community members and this breeds shame and ridicule. Menstrual hygiene management proves constraining with the lack of access to proper toilet facilities.
Statistics from World Bank group in 2017 show that lack of privacy for menstrual hygiene management affects 25 percent of women in Nigeria. Over 500 million women and girls worldwide lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Inadequate WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities, mainly in public places, including schools, workplaces can pose major challenges to women and girls. Aside from shame and dignity issues, it exposes them to harsher external factors
Most communities do not have access to potable water, this challenge became even more critical for a lot of communities during the lock down in the country. The responsibility of sourcing water lies heavily on women’s shoulders. According to UN Women, women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend about 40 billion hours a year collecting water. This significantly impacts women’s employment opportunities, health and general wellbeing. Even more disheartening is the fact that the quality of the water they access is very poor and often from unsafe sources including broken pipes in gutters and sewage systems, canals and rivers. This in itself cycles back into the communities in the form of illnesses, worm infestation, malnutrition, typhoid, malaria, diarrhea and cholera amongst others.
Reports from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, National Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF in November 2020 show that;
- One third of Nigerians drink contaminated water
- 46 million Nigerians still practice open defecation
- At least 167 million homes do not have access to hand washing facilities.
Women and children are most susceptible to illness and in the event of disease outbreak or illness in a family, even in this pandemic. Mothers, a supervising female adult or teenager assumes the role of care taker exposing them to great risk of disease
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019, an estimated 5.2 million children under 5 years died mostly from preventable and treatable causes, that could have been managed with access to simple, affordable interventions including immunization, adequate nutrition, safe water and food and quality care by a trained health provider when needed.
Report by Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 2021, shows that 50 percent of all pregnant women worldwide are anemic, and at least 120 million women in less developed countries are underweight and this can hinder productivity and can lead to increased rates of illness and mortality.
These challenges are real and will persist, attention needs to be constantly brought to these issues and so we at TKI choose to challenge the convention by lending our voice and join hands with other agencies to speak about these issues, take action to do the needful to curb these issues via #tkipadherup, sensitization programs and project across schools in local communities, organizing handwashing campaigns in public places like markets amongst others. We pride ourselves in bringing local communities attention to these challenges, empowering them with the right information and win their participation in eradicating such challenges.
In this pandemic, it becomes even more germane for the involvement of the Federal Government through the provision of necessary amenities that cater to eradication of these challenges.
Story by: Evelyn Ocholi – TKI Volunteer