NIGER: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Current situation

Niger

1. CURRENT SITUATION

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS

The Republic of Niger occupies the third last position (167) in the 2010 HDI and the last place in terms of gender indicators.

 

SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS INDICATORS

 

FERTILITY RATE

Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world, with 7.4 children per woman in rural areas, 6, in urban areas and 7.1, in total. This rate has barely fallen since 1998 although women who live in the capital now have 2 children less than those in rural areas. In fact, the ideal number of children for women, according to the 2006 Demographic and Health Survey is nine in general, seven for 70% of the population, and 11 for men. It would therefore appear that the desired level often surpasses the real level of fertility of women and men while on other occasions the two matches.

 

MATERNAL MORTALITY

Maternal health is one of the major challenges in Niger regarding the Millennium Development Goals. The high maternal mortality rate, which stands at 648 deaths for every 100,000 live births, makes the achievement of MDG 5 almost impossible if sound strategies are not adopted and additional resources destined to fight against this plague. One of the aspects that explain this situation is related to the average number of births at home, which stands at 82% and rises to 97% among women living below the poverty threshold. Only 0.5% of births take place with a doctor present and 33% with midwives, nurses or health professionals. By contrast, almost 50% of births are assisted by a traditional midwife, while 17% of births take place without any assistance.

 

PREVALENCE OF CONTRACEPTION

5%. Although 68% of women and 94% of men are aware of some kind of family planning method, it is worth noting that only one of every five women has used some kind of contraception during her lifetime. The unsatisfied demand for these products stands at 16%. The modern method most often used is the pill (3%).

 

EARLY MOTHERHOOD

The average age at which the first child is born is 18 and almost 40% of teenagers have had a child or are pregnant before reaching the age of 20.

 

EARLY MARRIAGE

74.5% of women and 6.2% of men.

 

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

There is no data available on the number of women affected. 70.1% justify a husband’s violence towards his wife.

 

FGM

The prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM), despite being illegal in Niger since 2003, stands at around 2% among women between the ages of 15 and 29 and can reach up to 66% among the Gourmantche ethnic group and 12% to 13% among the Peul and Tillaberi ethnic groups.

 

UNSAFE ABORTION

28 out of every 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Abortion is illegal except where the mother’s health is at risk.

 

SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

Same-sex relations are legal.

 

HIV/AIDS

In the field of STDs and HIV/AIDS in particular, the declared prevalence of STDs is around 3% in the case of women and men. As for HIV/AIDS, 0.7% of people aged between 15 and 49, i.e. some 42,000, have HIV, with identical prevalence among men and women, unlike other countries where the rate is much higher among women.

Instruments and policies

2. SRHR: INSTRUMENTS, MECHANISMS, LEGISLATION AND POLICIES

 

INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS SIGNED ON GENDER EQUALITY.

Although the country ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women (CEDAW) in 1999 as well as its Optional Protocol in 2004, the reservations issued regarding some of their basic articles leaves the government’s commitment to the enhancement of women’s status somewhat lacking in substance. At the same time, the Republic of Niger has not yet ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, adopted in July 2003 at the second African Union Summit of Maputo, as an Appendix to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. This protocol urges African governments to fight all forms of discrimination and violence against women and to promote equality. In article 14, it includes the right to health and the capacity to decide on reproductive functions.

 

NATIONAL LEGISLATION FRAMEWORK ON GENDER EQUALITY

Despite the major efforts of the women’s movement, the Civil Code is fundamentally based on custom and is strongly influenced by Islamic customs, which perpetuate discrimination against women in terms of access to land and succession rights and maintains forced marriage, repudiation or unfairness in defence against violence. On the other hand, in terms of gender equality, Niger has had a National Policy for the Promotion of Women since 1996 and more recently passed a Plan for the Promotion of Women. As specific actions carried out within the framework of the implementation of this policy, we could underline the adoption of the Law of Quotas that establishes women’s representation in Parliament, Government and Upper Echelons of the Administration at 25%; the creation of a Ministry responsible for the Promotion of Women and the protection of children and the opening of a National Observatory for Women’s Promotion, which is not yet operational.

 

POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN GENDER EQUALITY AND SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS

The health and gender sectors are articulated by means of a series of policies, plans and strategies that cover almost all the most relevant aspects of SRHR. As far as health is concerned, the landmarks reached since the implementation of the Policy for the Promotion of Women are free breast and womb cancer screening, as well as care for caesarean section patients and the removal of fibroids (although this free treatment does not include transport to hospitals, or taxes for surgical material, or medicine); the setting up of a reproductive health programme and STD and HIV/AIDS prevention activities and the voting, in May 2006, on the law on reproductive health in the National Assembly.  Moreover, the country’s sectorial strategy is currently included in the (2005-2009) Plan for Health Development and we should also mention the National Plan for Reproductive Health, the Road Map for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality and the (2008-2012) National Strategy to Fight HIV/AIDS and STIs.

It has not subscribed the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA).

The National Observatory for Women’s Promotion is the civil society participation mechanism put in place for the definition and drawing up of policies and strategies on gender, health and/or sexual and reproductive rights.

Map of actors

 

3. MAP OF ACTORS

 

CIVIL SOCIETY EXAMPLES

The existence of a strong women’s movement and civil society in Niger is one of the most positive and decisive factors in achieving progress in women’s rights and in sexual and reproductive health and rights. To this end, both organisations that work on gender equality and those in the field of health are grouped together in platforms (CONGAFEN and ROASSN, respectively) that facilitate articulation and coordination between the two. The condition of women is directly related to structural factors among which we could cite the strength of religious groups and their influence on State policies, the subordinated position of women for large sections of society and structural poverty. In this context, the women’s movement’s work needs support and strengthening. This has been recognised, even in the report presented by the State of Niger to the Working Group on the UN Universal Periodic Review in November 2010. This report includes among the priorities for re-establishing the rule of law in Niger, technical assistance from the international community in the training of women in techniques for the defence of their rights to promote their participation in decision-making processes and capacity building for the different civil society agents and state actors that participate in activities related to Human Rights.

Summary tables

 

NIGER

HDI

167

FERTILITY RATE

7.4 children per woman

MATERNAL MORTALITY

648 deaths for every 100,000 live births

PREVALENCE OF CONTRACEPTION

5 %

EARLY MOTHERHOOD

40 % of women between the ages of 15 and 19  have been pregnant at least once

EARLY MARRIAGE

74.5% of women and 6.2% of men

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

70.1% justify the use of violence by a husband towards his wife.

UNSAFE ABORTION

28 of every 1000 women between the age of 15 and 44. Abortion is illegal except where the mother’s life is at risk.

SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

Same-sex relations are legal.

HIV/AIDS

 

0.7% in total  and the same figures among women and men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIGER

Human Development Index: 167

1.CURRENT SITUATION

2. INSTRUMENTS, MECHANISMS, LEGISLATION AND POLICIES

3.  MAP OF ACTORS

Sexual and Reproductive Rights Indicators

International Gender Equality Instruments Ratified

National Legislation

Gender Equality and SRHR Policies and Strategies

CIVIL SOCIETY EXAMPLES in SDSR

- FERTILITY RATE: the highest in the world, 7.4 children per woman.

- MATERNAL MORTALITY: 648 deaths for every 100,000 live births. An average of 82% of births takes place at home, a figure that rises to 97% of women living below the poverty threshold. Only 0.5% of births are attended by a doctor, 33% by midwives, nurses or health workers. Traditional midwives are present at almost 50% of births, while 17% are unassisted.

- PREVALENCE OF CONTRACEPTION: 5%, 68% of women have some knowledge of family planning, as do 94% of men,

- EARLY MOTHERHOOD: Almost 40% of teenagers have been pregnant by the age of 20.

- EARLY MARRIAGE: 74.5% of women and 6.2% of men.

- GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: 70.1% justify a husband’s violence towards his wife. Genital mutilation has been illegal from 2003, but has a prevalence of 2%, and rises to 66% among the Gourmantche ethnic group and 12% to 13% among the Peul and Tillaberi ethnic groups, respectively.

- UNSAFE ABORTION: 28 out of every 1000 women aged between 15 and 44.  Abortion is illegal except where the mother’s health is at risk.

- SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION: Relations between people of the same sex are legal.

- HIV/AIDS: 0.7% of people between 15 and 49 are infected, with the same level of prevalence in men and women.

- CEDAW and Optional Protocol but with reservations on various basic articles, which leaves the commitment lacking in content

- It has not yet ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa

- Civil Code perpetuates discrimination against women in land rights and succession, maintains forced marriage, repudiation and inequity of defence in the face of violence

- Law on Reproductive Health

- Policy for the Promotion of Women

- Law of Quotas for women’s representation in Parliament, Government and Upper Echelons of Administration  at 25%

- Free screening for breast and womb cancer, and care for caesarean patients and the removal of fibroids, which does not include the cost of transport to hospitals, fees for the use of surgical material or medicine.

- Programme on health and activities for the prevention of STDs and HIV/AIDS

- Health Development Plan

- Reproductive Health Plan

- Road Map for the reduction of maternal mortality

- 2008-12 Strategy to fight HIV/AIDS and STDs

- Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Protection of Children

- Observatory on the Promotion of Women, not yet up and running

- Organisations working in the gender and health sectors are brought together by platform (CONGAFEN and ROASSN).

- DNGOs working on SRHRs

- DIMOL

-  ANPF

- CONIPRAT

- AFJN

 

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