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Int’l Women’s Day: Women are crucial in tobacco control- ERA/FoEN

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… as AWWASHNet says water privatisation is anti-women

By Agbonkhese Oboh

As the world commemorates the 2019 International Women’s Day, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has said tobacco menace is the number one militating factor to women reaching their full potentials in life, saying it supports tobacco control efforts that will address the growing number of young women getting addicted to tobacco and its debilitating impact on their health and progress in life.

The rights group urged women and gender rights groups across the country to support the Federal Government’s tobacco control efforts and called for speedy approval of the regulations for full enforcement of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015.

Similarly, Veronica Nwanya, Coordinator, Africa Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network, AWWASHNet, urged women and gender rights groups to continue challenging water privatisation plans, including the Public Private Partnership, PPP, plans spearheaded by Lagos State government.

AWWASHNet, in a statement issued in Lagos, said commodification of water is the singular most subtle way of disenfranchising women of their right to life and predisposes those who cannot afford costs associated with rate hikes that come with privatisation to unhygienic conditions and ill-health.

Nwanya said: “This year’s International Women’s Day theme is apt and reinforces our conviction that at government levels of policy-making women are not left in the lurch. Water privatisation is anti-women; the bias that this commemoration is intended to confront.”
She insisted that subjecting a free gift of nature to the whims of for-profit entities will only cause many women to resort to unwholesome sources that have been linked with cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases.

She added: “In policy formulation, especially as it concerns a lifesaver and sustainer that water represents, we expect government to take into consideration the importance of gender-specifics. Women should be involved and consulted.

“Unfortunately, in current plans, that is what is missing or else government will not talk of privatising water.”

In a statement by Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, ERA noted that the theme for this year’s International Women Day, Balance for
Better, serves as call-to-action for governments to celebrate women’s achievements and address bias.

It said according to World Health Organisation, WHO, 20% of the world’s more than a billion smokers are women and are more vulnerable to the dangers of tobacco and its effects ranging from female-specific cancers, high mortality rate to compromised pregnancy among others.

In the WHO report entitled Women and Health: Today’s evidence, tomorrow’s agenda, mention is made about the influence of tobacco advertising targeting girls, with some of the most dominant themes depicting glamour, sophistication, style, luxury, romance and sex, among other strategies aimed at wooing them into smoking.

ERA/FoEN Project Coordinator, Oluchi Robert, said: “As we mark this global event, the outgoing 8th National Assembly owes Nigerian women the gift of approving the Regulations as this will not only save women that are currently addicted to smoking, but also dissuade young girls from getting lured into taking up this dangerous habit.

“To stand up against the deadly attractions of the tobacco industry, women are crucial. Tobacco-free women are healthy women and only healthy women can reach their full potentials.”

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