The United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Regional Offices of the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, has distributed equipment worth over twenty five million leones (Le25,000,000) among traditional birth attendants and other stakeholders in thirteen (13) chiefdoms in the Bombali District.
Thirty nine megaphones, thirty nine torchlights, twenty six ‘Panasonic’ tape/CD players, and thirty nine boxes of ‘Vinnic’ batteries were among the equipment distributed, as part of the agenda of UNFPA in complementing government’s efforts in the fight against infant and maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy, gender based violence, and HIV/AIDS.
|UNFPA Country Rep. Ratiyai Ndiovu making statement
The equipments are expected to significantly contribute in the community outreach programs of these traditional birth attendants and their partners.
The distribution ceremony was held on Friday 15th October 2010 at Gbedembu, Ngowahun Chiefdom, and attracted over one hundred participants, including paramount chiefs, council members, health officers, newsmen and officials of other line ministries.
Regional Gender Desk Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Kamara, said the rationale for such a program to aid in the sensitization drive against deadly diseases.
|cross secion of participants
“Community people would be educated on what is expected of them in the fight against gender based violence, teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality in the country,” he said.
According to him, the ministry and UNFPA are aware of the fact that traditional leaders, traditional birth attendances and religious leaders are very influential in decision making process, thus the rationale for involving them in this sensitization drive.
Mr. Kamara used the forum as an opportunity to encourage the traditional birth attendants to use the donated equipment for their intended purposes.
|TBAs and parners receiving the items
Paramount Chief of Gbedembu, Ngowahun Chiefdom, PC Kandeh Baba Kiha III, thanked UNFPA and the ministry for choosing his chiefdom as a beneficiary of the program, and assured that he will do all in his powers to see the program succeed.
He further expressed appreciation to the government and it partners, especially UNFPA, for their commitment in the promotion of issues that affects women and children in the country.
“I want to register my total support towards the success of this program,” he emphasized, adding that his doors are always open for development in his chiefdom.
|participants including TBAs, Nurses and Traditional leaders
Speaking on behalf of the Bombali District, Councilor Martha Karim thanked UNFPA for prioritizing women’s issues in their agenda. “Women are one of the greatest pillars of development in any country,” he stressed.
She called on the locals to desist from what she referred to as in-house delivery of pregnant women. “This has been the major cause of maternal deaths in the country,” she pointed out.
The female councilor further admonished the men to refrain from the habit of turning their wives into punching bags – domestic violence. She noted that excessive beating has accounted for several deaths in the country.
Councilor Karim pleaded with the traditional and religious leaders also to practice to tenets of decent and civilized handling of homes.
In her goodwill message, UNFPA Country Representative, Ratidzai Ndiovu, expressed appreciation to the local authorities for their support towards the promotion of gender and women related issues in their various communities. According to her, “UNFPA is mainly concerned with all issues that affect women and girls, thus we work with youth, but this program is designed for women and their partners”.
Madam Ratidzai Ndiovu said women are beaten almost every day by their partners for no just reasons which often lead to deformation and death.
She said rape is among the numerous violence women suffer, adding that since it involves unprotected sex, women stand the risk of contacting HIV.
The UNFPA Country Representative talked about the importance for women to rest and recover after given birth. “It takes some time for women to assume normalcy prior to having another pregnancy,” she said, and used the forum as an opportunity to plead with the men to allow their wives enough time to rest and recover before thinking of getting them pregnant again.
She explained that the advocacy program is a community based program which was designed to be owned by the community people themselves, especially the TBAs.
Madam Ndiovu called on the locals to take the advocacy campaign to the length and breathe of their chiefdom in order to achieve proper implementation.
She further appealed to local authorities to embrace the program for the reduction of GBV, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, maternal mortality, and family planning, among others.
She expressed hopes of visiting the Bombali District after the advocacy program would have ended, and said she would be looking forward to much reduce statistics of gender based violence, teenage pregnancy and other related menaces.
She encouraged the TBAs to work in collaboration with traditional and religious leaders for the achievement of effective implementation.
The distribution ceremony was climaxed with special prayers and traditional dance.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.