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Widow Support Centre (WSC) 2018 International Women’s Day Celebration

Her Excellency Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki today gave the keynote address: “#PressForProgress – a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity” at the Widow Support Centre (WSC) 2018 International Women’s Day Celebration in Lagos. 

Mrs Saraki began by expressing thanks to Professor Pat Utomi for the exceptional work carried out by the Widow Support Centre since its inception in 1992, commenting:

“I commend and applaud Professor Utomi and his tireless team for their work in supporting widows and children through advocacy, training and social welfare. The organization and implementation of citizen education programmes, challenging specific cases of injustices and promoting a fair legislative agenda provide an invaluable service to families who require assistance due to a tragic passing.

Founder- President, WBFA- H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki

Her Excellency continued: “I am delighted to join you for your International Women’s Day Celebration to discuss this year’s theme: #PressForProgress - a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. In doing so, I wish to focus on the value of statistics and to touch upon the broader context of gender inequality.”

“I founded the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) in order to improve the life chances of women, infants and adolescents. I still believe that the rights of women, from the right to access education to the ability to work, are governed by her health and the health of her children. As we Press For Progress, we must face up to some daunting statistics. Five newborn babies die every minute across the world – meaning 2.6 million tragedies every year. A shocking 80% of these deaths are preventable.”

“A woman's chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13.  Whilst these statistics demonstrate the scale of the challenge, we must also recognise the importance of a well-designed civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system in order to collect and produce accurate data – and thereby ensure effective delivery, evaluation and monitoring of sustainable, effective public health strategies in Nigeria. At the WBFA we designed the Personal Health Record (PHR), a book in which the medical records of each mother and child are recorded and stored for future reference and analysis. The PHR evolved from a child immunisation and growth record to a comprehensive CRVS tool. Without a centralised health database for many families to rely upon to keep them informed of the necessary health processes in a child’s first thousand days of life, the PHR came as an innovation that placed this knowledge directly into the mothers’ hands, and empowered her to provide, analyze and follow-up on her own data. A comprehensive CRVS system in Nigeria will enable us to deliver health for all as a measurable demographic dividend. Japan, which is the safest place in the world to be born, has shown that a Universal Health Care system combined with good personal health records, should be key priorities.”


“We must also be prepared to make the hard-headed business case that investment in women’s health and opportunity will be transformative for communities across Africa. Women are key to achieving the demographic dividend that comes with an interplay of reduced total fertility rate, an expanded base of working-age population, and improved educational, infrastructural and healthcare investments. Women’s success, both professionally and personally, is success for the whole of society. The UN estimates that gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year. Our countries have both a moral and economic imperative to transform the equality agenda.”

“Together, in all our areas of influence, we must #PressforProgress. From increasing the political representation of women to challenging gender violence, and from mentoring young women to ensuring the safety of a mother in birth, I look forward to working with you all here to Press for Progress.”

Her Excellency Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki is Wife of the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Founder-President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador, International Confederation of Midwives (ICM).

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