A 2022 report by Oxfam Nigeria has listed Nigeria among world governments -that are putting women and girls in danger of a new kind of gender-based violence.
The report titled “The Assault of Austerity” pointed to Nigeria’s government decision to reduce health sector’s 2020 budget by 42 per cent which has placed Nigerian women and girls at an unnecessary new level of poverty, peril, overwork and premature death as a result of near-universal “slash-and-burn” efforts to recover Its economy from the pandemic and tame inflation.
Oxfam International Country Director in Nigeria, Dr Vincent Ahonsi, who spoke on the report, noted that Nigeria announced the reduction despite having one of the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the world.
“Testimonials from frontline health centers in Nigeria reveal scenarios such as two nurses on duty responding to over 150 women in an antenatal ward.
“Women bear the brunt of unpaid work around the world and are often the most neglected when it comes to basic and essential public services.
“Lack of social safety nets and stringent government cuts to spending on social services that benefit women and girls is a setback to the modest progress made towards reducing harm, abuse and violence.
“A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that 133 million Nigerians live in multidimensional poverty.
“This evidence shows weak government performance in poverty reduction over the years resulting in more women and girls not having access to quality healthcare services, food and basic amenities.
“Women economic empowerment and economic inclusion remain poor, with poor access to agricultural tools, loans and other inputs by women.
“The corporations and wealthy individuals need to pay their fair share of taxes, and a transparent and prudent purposeful social protection opportunity needs to be created for women and other vulnerable groups in society,” Ahonsi said.
Oxfam called on all governments to end austerity and instead seek alternatives such as feminist budgeting and progressive taxation, where taxes are invested into universal social protection and public services, putting the specific needs of women and girls at the heart of policymaking.