Tens of thousands of young Nigerian girls and women leave their country every year with sincere hopes of starting a brand-new life in Europe where they believe they will be met with ample job and educational opportunities to provide for their families. That is what they are often told by “recruiters” in their home states who seek out vulnerable girls (sometimes as young as ten) and women to leave for Europe. Unfortunately, the promises made to them by human traffickers are empty promises. In reality, four out of every five Nigerian girls and women who survive the long, harrowing journey to Europe will end up in the sex trade.
We often read about these stories in the news, but cannot adequately understand the harsh lives these girls and women endure at the hands of their traffickers. Essentially held in modern slavery, the women and girls have a debt placed upon them that they must pay off by prostituting themselves or else face dire consequences, sometimes fatal. Not only are they faced with threats by their Nigerian madams, they are also exploited in the streets where they are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, rapes, and physical violence. Wanting to tell these stories, Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezai wrote and directed Joy, an award-winning drama that shows the harsh and complex realities of these women and girls’ lives as prostitutes.
Continue reading Netflix Movie Reveals Grim Reality of Nigeria to Europe Sex Trafficking
The global maternal health social media conversation that has been ongoing since 2013 under the #MaternalMonday hashtag was officially launched by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) today in Abuja, Nigeria. The new #MaternalMonday digital space will allow WBFA to reach more users, even in remote areas, via a medium that is rapidly growing and evolving, wrote WBFA in a press release.
“Launching a standalone digital platform for mothers, campaigners, healthcare professionals, and others to engage with one another will allow us to deliver life-saving health information to even more people in communities across the African continent, and indeed the world,” said Felicity Ukoko, Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.
Continue reading #MaternalMonday Officially Launches Today in Nigeria
We are excited to launch our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with an interview with H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.
When did you know global maternal health was a bigger issue than you previously realized?
I became aware of the serious issues surrounding maternal health and survival over 20 years ago, when I gave birth to twins in Nigeria. I tragically lost one of my twin babies during childbirth, and then had to fight for the survival of the other. Even though I was an educated and informed woman, I was unable to save the life of my stillborn second twin daughter because of the infrastructural deficiencies in Nigeria’s healthcare system at the time, including a fatal delay in finding an anesthetist for an emergency C-section. Although I was grateful to leave this painful experience with my first twin and my own life, I realized that this experience is an unavoidable reality for many women in Nigeria, and indeed across the world.
Globally, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. And, where a mother suffers, her child suffers; and more than 3 million babies die before they are a month old. I founded the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to help address this heartbreaking issue that affects so many women and children. At first, my view was much more localized and I did not know all of these global statistics and the injustice that was taking place on a daily basis; but now it is these statistics, and the real life stories behind the statistics, that spur me on to continue every day.
Continue reading Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With H.E. Toyin Saraki
By Banke Sorinwa, a Nigerian mother and worker in financial services in Lagos.
It was our first day back to boarding school after the summer break. Some students shared hugs and narrated tales of the long holiday, while others were teary eyed because we were once again stuck in the four walls of school. It was also the time we looked forward to meeting the new students.
My friend Tonya noticed a new girl saying goodbye to her mom. We both also noticed that she was in crutches. That’s when Tonya told me a story about herself as a child.
Tonya said how fortunate she was that her parents discovered early on that she had polio. She was lucky in that she fully recovered. The girl Tonya and I saw on the first day of school was in her first year at secondary school and was on crutches till the end of the academic year.
Continue reading A Preventable Polio Story
This year, Africa will see 16 general, parliamentary, or presidential elections. We are particularly interested in the elections in Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Zambia and will follow them this year. Of note, Zambia’s election is on January 20 and Nigeria will hold their elections on February 14.
After the sudden death of Zambia’s former president, Michael Sata, last October, Zambia had 90 days in which to elect a new president. Many believe that the leading candidate Edgar Lungu for the Patriotic Front party, which Sata founded in 2001, will win handedly, but there is already hate speech and what looks like potential looming violence as the election date nears.
Nigeria’s elections are sure to grab countless headlines as Goodluck Jonathan seeks another presidential term. But upon the backdrop of the 200 missing girls who were taken last year by Boko Haram and their continued violence in Northern Nigeria, the election will likely be mired by threats of violence and potential civil unrest.
Goodluck officially launched his reelection campaign on January 8.
The infographic is from Brookings’ latest Africa report: Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2015.