VOF week 3 assignment: A loss that dares not speaks its name!
May 28 2012 would remain evergreen in the memory of a host of Nigerian youths who learned with grief and disappointed the death of a heroin and advocate for youth and social responsibility. She is the person who had raised stars out of a depraved generation by creating an eight pages platform in a national newspaper where the voices of young people can be heard. She is Ngozi Nwozor-Agbo and she died from a system she tried to correct. She passed away in a government hospital in Lagos after delivering a baby boy no thanks to doctors’ negligence.
By this costly death, she makes up the statistic of the high mortality recorded in Nigeria, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a press release published by the society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Nigeria, no fewer than 11,600 maternal deaths were recorded in the first 3 months. The major causes are hemorrhage infection, hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, obstructed labour and anaemia.
For most girls in my community, early marriage is not a choice but a reality they are forced to live with. In northern Nigeria, many of the girls barely make it past primary school. Girls as young as age 14 are betrothed out in marriage to men old enough to be their grandfathers. It is from here that they become child bearing machines. The consequence is usually high cases of Vesico Vaginal Fistula while some are not even lucky to make it alive. This preponderance of death is fuelled by the lack of health facilities especially in villages where issues like this are common.
There is no gainsaying the fact that one of the causes of maternal mortality is early marriage. Even in south west and south east, areas considered to be more educationally advance (where girls are likely to delay marriage for educational pursuit), some still fall victim owing to economic constraints. The high cost of education and unemployment has also not helped matters.
In the oil rich Niger Delta where oil money has turned blood money, some women lose their babies due to environmental pollution. I personally listened to the story of Agbo Oruma who was five months pregnant but miscarried as a result of oil spill. She said about nine other women also miscarried. This is not to state the fate of many others who have had causes to go to the grave beyond because there are no good hospitals around.
Ruby Manikan, the Indian Religious leader quoted in the London observer sayings of the week said, “If you educate a man you educate a person, but if you educate a woman you educate a family”. This shows the place of education in fighting this scourge. Another stumbling block to the issue is the painful fact that education is becoming more expensive and gradually drifting out of the reach of many. As someone who recently graduated from a federal university reputed to be the cheapest in the country, things were hard but I was still able to manage through the support of my mentors and my family, both immediate and extended. Hospitality and family ties thrive in Africa, and I believe this is one of the things we should key into to promote education for girls in Africa. I will also like to advocate a situation where women who sits atop boards of corporate organizations key into projects that engage in forward thinking CSR for education thirsty girls.
Many governments in Africa often tout the idea of reducing poverty as part of their main agenda. It is high time we let them know that government is serious about reducing poverty needs to first empower its female populace through providing opportunities for education and trade.
Also, it has been proved that the more women are able to use family planning, the less the incidents of maternal deaths. Hence, education for girls is not just an option to consider, it is a necessity and it should be treated as such.