UNFPA holds regional symposium to mark golden jubilee

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has held a regional symposium on gender equality and youth empowerment to mark its fiftieth anniversary in Nigeria.

The event attracted the attendance of non-governmental organizations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States as well as secondary school children and members of the National Youth Service Corps.

At the symposium, which was held in Calabar, capital city of Cross River State, southern Nigeria, Governor Ben Ayade commended UNFPA for its intervention programmes designed to eliminate gender violence, promote equality, women empowerment and reproductive health.

Governor Ayade, who was represented by James Odok, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women Affairs, said: “I felicitate with the UNFPA for your service to humanity throughout these 50 years. Indeed, Nigeria has benefitted immensely from the programmes on women empowerment, gender equality and reproductive health.”

“Women in Cross River and the entire southern region have been empowered to take control of their reproductive health. The girl child in our communities have received the needed support to keep them in schools as well as get them enrolled. It has really been a great partnership,” stated Ayade.

In a message, Dr. Mamadou Kante, the UNFPA Deputy Regional Director West and Central Africa, said the occasion also marked the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, Programme of Action, ICPD_PoA in Nigeria.

Kante, who was represented by Keneth Ehouzou, the Officer in Charge, UNFPA Nigeria, stated “we are here today because UNFPA has consistently invested and partnered with governments, young people, women, the media, traditional and religious institutions as well as other stakeholders to implement impact-driven development programmes, projects and activities that provide universal access to sexual reproductive health, promote reproductive rights, reduce maternal mortality for women and girls whose ability to exercise their right is often compromised”

According to him, “we are here at the south-south and south-east regional symposium on gender equality and youth empowerment because these two groups are central to the achievement of the programme of action of ICPD and the Sustainable Development Goal.”

He urged the participants to review the progress, assess the gaps, the unfinished business, the challenges as well as provide innovative and implementable approaches to improving youth empowerment in the region for the next 25 years.

The Deputy Regional Director, who pledged the support to the various States’ development agenda, urged government, at all levels, to continue to work assiduously to drive the UNFPA and ICPD_PoA mandate.

Highlight of the celebration, which featured plenary sessions, drama presentations, were goodwill messages from non-profit organizations such as Girls Power Initiative, Public Health Students Association and line MDAs across the south-south, south-east Nigerian States.