Medical experts advocate laws, social protections for caregivers
Stakeholders in the health sector have tasked governments to ensure enforcement of relevant laws, social protections, cooperation and self-care for caregivers, as these are crucial to those working in the paid and unpaid care economy to contribute effectively to COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 recovery efforts in Nigeria.
This recommendation was made at a virtual Care Dialogue, organised by Red Eyes Development Initiative (REDi), a gender rights, environmental justice and sustainable development advocacy organisation, in partnership with Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies (CCGS), University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Director, REDi and event host, Ekaete George, said the Care Dialogue was organised because gender justice is at the heart of COVID-19 recovery and a post-COVID-19 care economy rebuilding.
The Dialogue, held on Zoom and streamed live on Facebook, had as speakers women’s rights, gender justice advocates and activists, including Acting Director, CCGS University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Heoma Nsirim-Worlu, President, Medical Women Association, Rivers State Branch, Dr. Vetty Agala, and Executive Director, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative (OLPHI), Mrs. Loretta Ahuokpeme.
Nsirim-Worlu, in her submission, asked women leaders to synergise, while families should operate on equilibrium, where care is not a gender specific activity.
“We should socialise our children to understand that everyone at home is important. If boys and girls are taught to contribute equally from the home, these abuses of caregiving responsibilities will reduce,” she said.
She also called on policy makers, decision makers and law enforcement agencies to do due diligence in ensuring a level playing field for all genders and vulnerable groups, especially in accessing justice.
Agala encouraged women and girls to break the culture of silence. “And we need to rally round each other. It might take time for government and policymakers to intervene, but individuals, civil society organisations and institutions must form alliances and rally to help and provide care for vulnerable women.”
Ahuokpeme noted a spike in sexual and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. She noted that in working with women in the communities, she found that though caregiving responsibilities have disproportionately increased, it is being carried out by many women, while also facing gender-based violence.
She called on law enforcement agencies to give prompt interventions by responding to cases of abuse against women on a case by case basis.