The Country Representative of UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Ms Ulla Mueller, says the mantra of “bodily autonomy” advanced by the Fund in its 2021 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report is not a negation of cultural norms.
She said this in Abuja when she featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, the flagship interview platform of the agency.
She said that “bodily autonomy” as advanced by the UN body was an attempt to enrich the marriage institution and make it beneficial to both husband and wife.
She stressed that “I do not think that bodily autonomy in any way negates cultural norms, rather, it should be seen as an attempt to enrich the marriage institution.
“It is viable for both husband and wife, and gives women and girls opportunity to contribute to their development.”
The country representative said most African countries had ratified most UN conventions, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in their country.
Mueller, who condemned rape both in marriage and outside marriage, said bodily autonomy as the right of every woman was key to addressing the menace.
She expressed optimism over the UN’s coordinated effort to get to the time when there would be a conducive environment and safer space to uphold those rights.
She said the effort was geared toward ensuring an enabling environment for changing social norms, capacity building for traditional and religious leaders, as well as information on health and social services for women, girls, boys and men.
She explained that the effort was particularly aimed at empowering women and girls as champions for change, while men would also be engaged to improve data.
“All of these contribute to efforts toward ending GBV and harmful practices by 2030.”