Abuja declaration calls for action against hazardous traditional practices.

Newsl Inter Afr Comm Tradit Pract Affect Health Women Child. 1990 May;(9):13-4.

Abuja declaration calls for action against hazardous traditional practices.

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PIP: The UN Economic Commission for Africa organized a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, last November to review the “Role of Women in Africa in the 1990s” as a follow-up of the “Arusha Strategies” of 1984. Among topics examined were harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage and pregnancy, female circumcision, nutritional taboos, inadequate child spacing and unprotected delivery, which are still found to be current realities in many African countries. These practices often inflict permanent physical, psychological, and emotional damage, even death, and little progress has been achieved in the abolition, the Declaration states. The lives of women in Africa are dominated by traditions. Certain attitudes, structures, and traditional practices, such as female circumcision and nutritional taboos that have harmful effects on the health of women and children, have rarely been officially surveyed. They have not been fully acknowledged by policy makers and opinion leaders, nor have effective steps to stop them been given precedence in health development planning. There is need for action at national as well as subregional and regional levels. Action at the national levels means that: national research institutes should undertake in-depth research on various traditional practices and their effects on women; functional literacy campaigns should sensitize parents and disseminate information on the harmful effects of circumcision, childhood marriage and early pregnancy; guidance and counseling should be provided to adolescent girls as well as to parents to make them understand the harmful physical, social, and mental effects of some traditional practices; religious leaders, traditional rulers, women’s organizational, professional bodies and others should act as pressure groups in promoting efforts against harmful practices through traditional and modern means of communication, dissemination of information, and other appropriate ways of communication; and legislative and administrative measures to eradicate harmful practices should be introduced and implemented urgently and expeditiously. At the subregional and regional levels: established subregional and regional structures should give priority attention in their development programs to the issues of female circumcision and other harmful traditional practices; action should be taken to ensure that women’s issues are addressed within national programs; and policies on data development by gender specifications should be advocated so as to make data more relevant and useful. [Full Text Modified]

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