Nigeria Fights Radicalism at Commission on the Status of Women

By | March 15, 2019

NEW YORK, March 15 (C-Fam) As the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria has landed in the crosshairs of the family planning and abortion movement.  Wealthy Western countries are investing heavily in bringing the “reproductive health” agenda to Nigeria in the form of foreign aid.  Meanwhile, Nigeria has faced its own struggles with poverty, human trafficking, and attacks from terrorist groups like Boko Haram.

The government of Nigeria highlighted these pressing issues in two events connected to the ongoing UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Scientist, activist, author, and filmmaker Obianuju Ekeocha was working as a biomedical researcher in London when she heard Melinda Gates announce her goal to greatly increase funding for family planning in developing countries like her native Nigeria.  When an open letter she wrote to Gates gained widespread attention, she used her newfound platform to found Culture of Life Africa to spread the pro-life message and push back on those urging Africa’s people to abandon their pro-life norms and laws.

On Tuesday, Ekeocha’s presented her documentary film, “Strings Attached” to a packed room at the Nigerian Mission to the UN.  The event was covered by the Washington Post.

“Strings Attached” focuses predominantly on the UK-based abortion giant Marie Stopes that performs illegal abortions in multiple African countries, a fact its own representatives have openly admitted. In the movie, several women tell stories of trauma and pain following abortions at Marie Stopes clinics.  Others tell of harrowing side effects from long-acting contraceptive methods, after receiving inadequate counseling.  One woman said she was given an implant for free, but after suffering painful side effects was told she would have to pay a large fee to have it removed.

Ekeocha said she appreciates the Trump administration’s Protecting Life in Global Health policy, formerly known as the Mexico City Policy, which redirects U.S. funding away from groups like Marie Stopes and instead funds health programs that benefit both mothers and children.  In her remarks after the movie, she also criticized the so-called “unmet need” for family planning, saying that the true unmet needs of women she knows are things like food, clean drinking water, and good education.

Nigeria also hosted a panel discussion on human trafficking in Nigeria’s Edo State, where tens of thousands of vulnerable girls have been taken, smuggled overseas, and forced into prostitution.  Panelists, including the first lady of Edo State, discussed the ongoing efforts to address underlying issues like poverty and rehabilitate formerly-trafficked women and girls.  In her remarks, C-Fam’s Dr. Yoshihara likened the issue to the scourge of sex-selective abortion and said, “in a crisis that is this severe, there is only one answer: we must love our daughters.”  Emphasizing the importance of the family as the primary line of defense, she pointed out that without strong families, other approaches will be insufficient. “Fathers, mothers, love your daughters,” she repeated, concluding her remarks to loud applause.

The Commission on the Status of Women is an annual meeting that sees UN Member States negotiate a nonbinding document while swirling around are dozens of side events and panels meant to advance various causes related to the work of the Commission. Next week is the final week of the two-week meeting.

Editor’s note: C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax, co-hosted both panels reported in this story.