By Sola Ogundipe
NIGERIANS have been urged to speak out against the Expanded Global Gag Rule, GGR, introduced in 2017 by President Donald Trump of the United States of America, USA.
Calling for all hands to be on deck towards advocating for the GGR to be rescinded, Country Director, Ipas Nigeria, Barrister Hauwa Shekarau, said there is urgent need for organisations to fully understand the policy particularly the exceptions.
Shekarau who was Guest Speaker at a seminar to mark the 2018 Family Week of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, themed: Ensuring a Saner Society, Playing Our Roles, urged NGOs to look beyond the US Government funding for family planning and other reproductive health issues.
In her presentation entitled: The Impact of the Global Gag Rule on Sexual and Reproductive Health, she noted that there is need to continue to document how the GGR impacts on work of sexual and reproductive health organisations in the country.
The GGR, known officially as “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” Policy, prevents foreign NGOs that receive US global health assistance from using either the received funds or any other funds to provide abortion services, counselling or referrals regarding abortion, advocate for abortion law reform in their country or conduct public campaigns on abortion access.
Speaking on the impact of the GGR, Shekarau said: “In just one year, health care workers say the policy has had disastrous effect; as expected, clinics are shutting down, unsafe abortions are predicted to rise sharply and families are losing critical services across the globe. (Time Magazine)
“It has had a devastating effect on women’s health especially in the developing world. This is because clinics serving some of the most vulnerable communities mostly in parts of Africa run by NGOs, are being shut down as aid to them are being diverted because of the policy.”
Further, Shekarau warned that the GGR is already having a chilling effect among Civil Society engagement, research and cooperation. “This ultimately impacts negatively on women’s health. For instance, some of us are finding it difficult to find local organisations to partner with on issues of abortion.
“The policy clearly jeorpadizes women’s and girls’ health by decreasing access to safe services as well as contraceptive care.