The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA Professor Adenike Oladiji has said that promoting women's rights to quality education and healthcare is not only a matter of justice but a prerequisite for sustainable development and societal progress.
She made the submission while delivering the key note address with the topic: "Promoting Women’s Rights to Quality Education and Healthcare," at the third Public Lecture of the Precision Online Newspaper at the Pharmacy House, Akure on November 27, 2023.
Professor Oladiji said the relationship between education and healthcare forms the foundation for women’s empowerment thereby enabling them to lead healthy fulfilled lives and contribute meaningfully to other communities. She added that by addressing these challenges in these spheres, societies can unlock the full potentials of their population fostering a more equitable and prosperous world for everyone as women make up approximately 50 per cent of the world’s population.
The Vice Chancellor said creating safe spaces and enabling environment for women to thrive should be top priority for all and highlighted ways that women can be empowered to include advocacy, education of women, formulating laws that protect women’s rights and promote equity, discouraging discriminatory traditional practices that limit access to health and education, design of multifaceted solutions for girls and women facing multiple challenges , increase in the number of women who work in the private and public sectors, recognizing and combating gender bias in schools and public places and removing gender stereotypes from learning materials.
Professor Oladiji said, “An educated woman is more likely to prioritize her health, make informed choices about family planning and seek medical care when needed. Also, good health enhances a woman’s ability to pursue education, work and contribute meaningfully to the society. Investing in comprehensive sex education as part of the educational curriculum can empower women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health leading to healthier lives for both mothers and children”.
The Vice Chancellor said gender discrimination continues as regards access to education and healthcare and this in turn keeps limiting the potential of women and hindering societal progress and increased the gender equality gap. She mentioned some problems encountered by women accessing care and these are: lack of specialists trained in female healthcare, lack of education/information which may inhibit compliance to care, fear of physical examination, spousal authorization practices, lack of rights to privacy and confidentiality, distance to healthcare providers, cultural practices and lack of funds to pay for treatment.
Oladiji said women’s health is not an individual wellbeing but a determinant of the overall health and prosperity the family and hence the general society.
The Vice Chancellor said promoting healthcare services tailored to women’s unique needs contribute to a healthier and more productive female workforce and participate fully in the socio-economic and political spheres.
Also speaking, Chairperson of the lecture, Dr Yemisi Jeff-Agboola said education is not only a fundamental human right but a catalyst for societal and economic development as it is when women have access to quality education they are better equipped to contribute to their communities.
She said “according to the United Nations said access to quality education is one of the sustainable development goals that can transform our world. Education is the key that unlocks potentials and opportunities for individuals in the society to thrive. Women and girls must have equal access to education. It is important to encourage women to reach their full potential in spite of barriers such as societal norms, poverty, lack of infrastructure and inadequate resources. It is essential to address these challenges and create an enabling environment that promotes women’s rights to education and health and one crucial aspect of promoting women’s health is menstrual hygiene management”.
She said the role of the government and all stakeholders cannot be down played in promoting women’s rights and allocation of resources must be prioritized to ensure that women and girls have equal access to education and health care services. According to her promoting women’s rights to quality education and health is not only a matter of human right but a pathway to a more equitable and prosperous society and that all hands must be on deck to break barriers and create an inclusive environment that promotes women’s rights to education and health.
The Chief Imam of Akure Alhaji Yayi Akorede in his contribution buttressed the fact that women play a pivotal role in building the society. He said women's education must be a top priority for all governments.The Imam urged women to embrace their roles with dignity and emphasized the need for mutual respect in society.
Akorede stressed the importance of educating girls, stating that an educated woman contributes significantly to societal development. He urged parents to prioritize the education of their daughters, emphasizing that the nation benefits when women are educated.
On his part, the founder of the Precision Online Newspaper, Mr. Hakeem Adebumiti reiterated that to get the best out of the society, we must empower the girl child and by extension the women. He said a platform like the lecture serves to reinforce actions towards the development of girls and women’s rights. He pointed out that out of the staggering number of out of school children population in the world, Nigeria shares a substantial figure of about 20 million as announced by UNESCO, girls forming a substantial percentage. He said there was an urgent need for advocacy at all levels and concerted involvement of all stakeholders to promote women’s rights to quality healthcare and education.