Nigeria’s Niyi Ojuolape resumes as UNFPA envoy in Somalia

Nigeria’s Niyi Ojuolape resumes as UNFPA envoy in Somalia

Following an almost five-year stint as Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Ghana, Mr Niyi Ojuolape has resumed in a similar capacity with the organisation in Somalia.

Representing UNFPA in Ghana between July 2017 – May 2022, Mr. Ojuolape piloted several ground-breaking initiatives for the Country Office, such as the Youth Leaders (YoLe) Fellowship Program, a graduate internship programme that introduced young people to the professional UN work environment, along with skills in innovation and training for them to be actively involved in development work across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Launch of the 100 days to the 2021 PHC

Launch of the 100 days to the 2021 PHC

With the UN Resident Coordinator (1st from right), Government Statistician, Dr. Samuel Kobina Anim (2nd from left) at the event

The role data plays in helping to deliver development is always crucial. Organized ways of eliciting critical data for development purposes like national censuses are even more welcome in an age where experts say, ‘data is the new oil’. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intended census for Ghana was moved from 2020 to this year, so that the all-important exercise can be carried out with high levels of accuracy and also maximum protection from the global pandemic.

On Friday, I joined colleagues in the United Nations (UN), Development sector, CSOs and Government, for the launch of the census process in Ghana, dubbed “100 days to 2021 Population and Housing Census”. The keynote speaker at the event, the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia highlighted the relevance of data for informing sound Government Policy.

The new date for the Census as confirmed by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) is Sunday, 27 June, 2021, and for the first time, the census process will be digital–making use of emerging technology to deliver faster and more accurate results.

Launch of Orange Support Centre and  Boame App; Remedy to SGBV Cases in Ghana

Launch of Orange Support Centre and Boame App; Remedy to SGBV Cases in Ghana

The Orange Support Centre (OSC) is born out of a collaboration between UNFPA Ghana and the Domestic Violence Secretariat (DVS) of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP). It is an effort to establish a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the needs of survivors of SGBV.

As UNFPA is committed to bringing to zero all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices especially against women and girls, the initiative will create a safe avenue for survivors of SGBV, to receive timely, coordinated, and reliable support, be it psychosocial, access to legal services, referral to emergency shelters and/or SGBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)

The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr Charles Abani in his remarks congratulated UNFPA Ghana for its efforts in the fight against SGBV through interventions such as the formation of the Coalition of Persons Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices (CoPASH), reactivation of the SGBV Helpline and supporting DoVVSU in various ways to provide effective response to domestic violence cases.

“Fighting SGBV is a worthwhile endeavour as it saves many women and girls from the abuse they usually suffer. I congratulate the DV Secretariat under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and also acknowledge the support provided by UNFPA in the specific areas of promoting gender equality.”

Head of UN Systems at the Ministry of Finance, Ms. Gladys Osabutey, who performed the official launch of the centre, commended UNFPA Ghana and partners for the continuous efforts in the fight against SGBV.

“This facility will help clients to access fast and effective legal assistance, referrals to SGBV shelters and all other services without struggle, and this is very critical if Ghana wants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”- she added.

Interacting with Dignitaries after the commissioning of the Centre

The Orange Support Centre services will be accessible to clients through a multifunction range of communication;

Toll-Free Number: The helpline ((0800-111-222) is available for persons who need to report cases of abuse, get information about sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence and or seek support for themselves or others who are facing any form of abuse.

Walk-Ins: Individuals can also walk into the Centre and ask for support and access services. When the OSC is accessed in this way, a case file is opened for the individual, the necessary details are taken and then the needed services provided.

BoaMe App: This is a mobile application and it is currently available on Google play store. The App provides information on sexual and gender based violence, allows individuals to report cases and access support services.

The event was attended by Heads of UN Agencies in Ghana, Canadian High Commissioner- H.E Cathy Csaba, The Australian High Commissioner- Gregory Andrews, President of the International Federation of women Lawyers Ghana, Madam Afua Adottey, among other dignitaries.

Celebrating my Sisters on International Women’s Day

Celebrating my Sisters on International Women’s Day

As I inch towards a second decade in the vocation of advocating for social justice, gender parity, maternal health and youth empowerment, I am constantly reminded of where some of the passion that drives me came from. With every sense of modesty, I like to think that the family I came from, (where among others, there are no household chores reserved for boys or girls) provided me with an initial disposition towards matters of social justice. I celebrate two of my Sisters (Sister Funmi and Sister Funke) who were solid examples of how systems of exclusion can be challenged with dignity and humanity. Sister Funmi is now late (God rest her soul) and Sister Funke will attain the 70 year landmark this year.

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Taking My COVID-19 Vaccination

Taking My COVID-19 Vaccination

With the frontline health worker in preparation to take my jab.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the whole world hard and has had ripple effects in almost every area of human activity, especially in everyday social interaction as we have come to know it. Despite the distress and discomfort it brought, we might also want to look at the positives it offered, for instance, in leading us to adopt cross-sectoral alternative working arrangements using electronic means.

Displaying my Vaccination card after the injection.

The pandemic has equally taught us the need to put forward once again the basics of personal hygiene including: regular hand-washing, use of hand sanitizers and observing cough/sneeze etiquette. Thankfully, COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Ghana last week under the COVAX initiative and I was privileged to take my jab today. It was painless and the process, quite smooth.

Get vaccinated and keep protecting yourself and others. Until we get out of the woods, let’s continue to have each other’s back by wearing our masks, practicing social distancing and keeping fit through physical exercise.

Courtesy call to H.E Gregory Andrews, Australian High Commissioner in Ghana

Courtesy call to H.E Gregory Andrews, Australian High Commissioner in Ghana

The Government of Australia is a huge supporter of the work of UNFPA across the world, including in Ghana. Australia is a core contributor of funds to the organization. Over the years, the High Commission in Ghana has offered support for ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and promoting women’s rights as a result.

On Tuesday, 16 February 2021, I paid a courtesy call on the Australian High Commissioner, H.E Gregory Andrews to bring him up to speed on the work we have been doing and to mutually renew commitments to each other in our quest to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The Deputy Representative of UNFPA Ghana, Ms. Agnes Kayitankore and myself, in an interaction with the High Commissioner, H.E Gregory Andrews

Women and girls’ rights are named as one of the six investment priorities of Australia’s foreign investment policy, with specific areas of collaboration including population data, family planning, and safe motherhood, HIV/AIDS prevention, ending gender-based violence and promoting disability- inclusive development.

Our discussions centered on possible collaborations with the High Commission in Ghana to achieve these transformative goals and promote gender equality.

Courtesy Call to the Office of GBC Director-General

Courtesy Call to the Office of GBC Director-General

To build a more solid partnership and mutually deploy the power of the media to inform and educate the general public,  I paid a courtesy call on the Office of the Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Professor Amin Alhassan.

I took the opportunity to highlight the three (3) transformative goals of UNFPA which seeks to achieve:

  • Zero (0) Preventable maternal deaths
  • Zero (0) Unmet need for Family Planning, and;
  • Zero (0) Sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices

The DG of GBC on his part welcomed the partnership and made it clear that his outfit exists to promote development through Journalism and are ever willing to lend support to the work of UNFPA in Ghana.