In March 2016, I was invited to address the United Nations at the annual, ‘My Sisters Health Watch’ Summit which came together to ensure we leave no women’s health issues behind. I was invited in my capacity as the Founder / Leader of the ‘Together We Are #Unshakable’ Women’s Movement (an intimate group on facebook – promoting women empowerment globally) and author of ‘Silent Symphonies’ – my debut novel which documents the life of the everyday woman from a realistic point of view. I put myself forward as a subject matter expert on promoting the everyday woman’s holistic wellbeing, using the budget allocation for Women’s Health Issues in Nigeria as a case study.
My speech backed the voice of influential Nigerian women such as Oluremi Tinubu and Dr Abiola Akinyode who actively seek a reform of the overall budget allocation to women in Nigeria, and Africa. I highlighted that in addition to a dire need for a reform of the health budget with particular emphasis on women, we need to ensure also that the apportionment of this budget makes the best use of the resources at our disposal taking into consideration the 3 A’s of SDG3 – accessibility, availability and affordability. This means, it is time to call for a re-examination of this budget to align with our changing times. I referred to a paper written by Professor Jasper Chiwuzie of Community Medicine, University of Benin, on maternal mortality and it has become apparent that what we should be campaigning for is awareness. Awareness of current health issues as pointed out by Omolewa Ahmed of Leah Foundation. We need mass health education sessions for women using schools, outreaches, religious and corporate organisations, churches, public spaces – such as markets and places where this information is not readily available.
I also backed a call to action to promote healthy living lifestyles – exercising and good diet, meditation, self actualisation and realisation. In agreeing with the guest of honour, Alhaja J Al-Hassan (aka Mama Taraba), the issue of women’s health is to some degree a human rights issue which needs to be addressed with urgency. Domestic violence – emotional, physical, mental abuse, gender based violence are an ‘absolutely not!’ Discrimination on the grounds of sex and societies’ ability to contain today’s woman in a box that gives her no hope, no voice or empowerment needs to be eliminated.
I concluded my speech with the following:
My name is Sally Chiwuzie and I am #unshakable. This means that I understand that the ultimate accountability for my wellbeing lies with me. Through the power of storytelling, I hope we take our metaphoric lit candle and tilt forward to light the next, in the understanding that it all begins with ‘self-love’. This is the key ingredient for today’s woman’s holistic wellbeing. Bobby Kalotee has spoken of his motto – There is no greater gift than good health; and I strongly agree. Therefore, in showing my support for our theme – ‘Leave no women’s health issues behind’, I finish with the motto which promotes holistic health – Be #unshakable. Be in truth with yourself. Love yourself.
It was with great pleasure that I was awarded, and accepted the invitation to join MSHW as a contributing stakeholder on behalf of ‘Together We Are #Unshakable’ with effort commendations on and offline.