By Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry
The Africa Regional Office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation joins millions of Africans in commemorating the founding of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) which is now known as the African Union (AU). The AU theme for this year is timely 'Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa's development' – this resonates well with our call for a peaceful Africa, where women and girls sexual and reproductive health and rights needs should be protected, with access to services improved.
Globally, 60% of preventable maternal deaths take place in settings of conflict, political unrest, fragility, displacement and natural disasters. In humanitarian and conflict settings, women, girls and other marginalized communities face increased risk to sexual and gender based violence, unintended pregnancy, and unsafe abortion, STI including HIV.
In crisis and conflict affected settings in Africa, IPPF Member Associations are among the first responders in the frontlines, providing integrated and lifesaving SGBV services, reaching out to tens of thousands of women and girls who are subjected to sexual assault in these complex emergencies.
As we celebrate the Africa Day, in this situation compounded with the unprecedented threat of COVID 19 pandemic which has had a devastating impact globally, we urge African Governments and other stakeholders to double their efforts and integrate SRHR in the COVID 19 response – particularly addressing the unmet needs of girls and women in complex emergency settings.
Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry is the Regional Director, IPPF Africa Region.