MRS Toyin Saraki, the wife of Senate President, on Thursday appealed to families to space pregnancies for 1000 days for better life, prosperity and good health of the family.
Toyin Saraki made the appeal at the 2016 Women Pre-Conference meeting of the 4th National Planning Conference scheduled for Nov. 7 and Nov. 9 in Abuja.
The pre-conference had the theme `Women and Family Planning in Nigeria: A critical Requirement for Harnessing Demographic Dividend for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Saraki, who is also the Founder-President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa and UNFPA Family Planning Champion for Nigeria, said that family planning could be engine-starter for attainment of demographic dividend and economic progress.
She said that family planning was more than contraception and also more than the avoidance or delay of pregnancy or childbearing.
“It is adjudged to be one of the impactful inventions for empowerment,’’ she said.
Saraki said women were key to achieving demographic dividend from interplay of reduced total fertility rate, expanded base of working age population and healthcare investment.
“ Nigeria has an approximate population of over 176 million people; approximately 111 women die every day because of preventable causes related to pregnancies and child birth.
`More than 10 per cent of this death would have been prevented by improving access to family planning services and commodities to women.
“There are over 42 million women of reproductive age in Nigeria, but only 15 per cent of contraceptive use and total fertility rate of 5.5.
According to her, this can be burdensome for some women and their families compared to Rwanda and Iraq with fertility rates of 3.8 and 4.5 per cent, respectively.
She said as the UNFPA Family Planning Champion for Nigeria, she would use her position to advance family planning in the country.
She said as an advocate for gender equality and societal development, Nigeria could not achieve its potential as a country without strong national family planning.
Sen. Aisha Alhassan, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development said women, as mothers, played important roles in determining demographic dividend outcomes in Nigeria.
The minister, who was represented by Alhaji Mohammed Idris, the Deputy Director of Women Rights and Gender in the ministry, said there was a correlation between poverty and high maternal mortality.
She, however, expressed optimism that the conference would provide information, skills, and guidelines to ensure robust access to family planning services in Nigeria.
“Through the interaction of stakeholders drawn from a wide range of backgrounds at this event, we will address the myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning in Nigeria’’ she said.