Demographic Dividends: UNFPA Wants Traditional, Religious Leaders To Play Active Roles
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)West and Central Africa Coordinator, Mr Mabingue Ngom has called on traditional and religious leaders to ensure young women, children and youth are not marginalised in the country.
Mr Ngom who made the call in Abuja at a two-day consultative forum with the title: Harnessing Demographic Dividend (DD) for Sustainable Development of Nigeria: The Role of Muslim Religious Leaders; with the theme: Increasing Access to Reproductive Health Services as a Key Pillar for Achieving Demographic Dividend (DD) in Nigeria,said there was need for Traditional leaders to sensitize their members on the importance of being committed to developing the nation .
He urged Islamic Religious leaders to put in place strategic policies and programmes that will enable the country in harnessing Demographic dividends.
“We need to develop the capacity of our people .We will reduce the dependency ratio among young people, and make them have a sense of belonging ”
“We have to take concrete actions,as the only way to build Africa is to build the people, and ensure they harness their gift effectively”
According to him, the attainment of demographic transition and Demographic dividends demand a reduction in maternal and infant mortality
“Gender inequality, youth and women empowerment, maternal health, child spacing and fertility transition are critical issues that influences the population structure.”
” The working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age (14 and younger, and 65 and older.”“A country with both increasing numbers of young people and declining fertility has the potential to reap demographic dividend”.
“Sensitization of traditional, cultural and religious gatekeepers in achieving success of the various Demographic Dividend related projects can therefore not over emphasized
The major cause for concern is that the larger chunk of Nigeria’s population is made up of young person’s which further increased the dependency ratio”.
“The role of Religious Leaders is critical in achieving Agenda 2030 and Africa 2063, by harnessing the demographic dividend and inclusive growth through investment in education, health, empowerment, governance and employment creation.”he added.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar ,who was represented,hy the Emir of Shonga, Dr Ndanusa Yahaya urged the Federal and state government to enforce child legislation act, that would ensure that all girls are educated, especially before they turn 18 years of age.
“The Child right law should be made active and compulsory in all the states of the federation ”
“We would try all measures to ensure that the issue of early child marriage is eradicated in all parts of the country ”
He urged all stakeholders to speak from the human interest perspective while appealing to the citizen.
“When we come from the approach of Family well being, we want to drive home the issue of Family Planning ,we want to Capture the emotion of the citizen,”
‘Religious leaders are key players to boosting the long-awaited change in the behaviour of individuals and communities for an effective and sustainable improvement in the use of reproductive health services.”he added.
The purpose of the consultation meeting was to strengthen partnerships; provide avenues for sharing experiences and best practices, and agree on a Call to Action that identifies concrete decisions to be translated into a Plan of Action