Nollywood actress and activist, Stephanie Linus has been appointed the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Regional Ambassador for Maternal Health in West and Central Africa.
As Regional Ambassador, Mrs Linus will help advocate and raise awareness on maternal health issues, whilst encouraging policies and laws that protect the rights and dignity of the girl child, the critical investments needed for young people to fulfil their potential and for Africa to reap its demographic dividends.
Announcing the appointment at the unveiling ceremony organised by UNFPA in Lagos, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole described Stephanie Linus as being found worthy in character and learning.
Adewole said Mrs Linus went through rigorous screening before she was appointed. “She has already been appointed, but we are now making the general public know she is now the regional ambassador in West and Central Africa,” the minister said.
UNFPA’s Regional Director of West and Central Africa, Mabingue Ngom said improving the health and status of women and girls remains a priority for the agency, and they will continue to accelerate efforts, by building strategic partnerships to scale-up successful interventions that put young people first.
“Our ultimate aim is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” Ngom said.
Accepting the honour, Stephanie Linus said she was honoured to partner with UNFPA to create an enabling environment for women, girls and every young person to fulfil their potential.
She pledged to work closely with the fund to draw attention to the work that still needs to be done across the region to increase universal access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health services and information.
“This is to stop women from dying in the course of bringing forth new life, to empower women and girls to choose freely and for themselves.”
The award winning actress who is the executive producer of the movie – “DRY” said motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, but for thousands of women in sub-Saharan Africa, it is associated with suffering, ill health and even death. Hear her;
“As a woman and as a mother, I believe every woman has right to be beautiful, every woman has the right to health, and every woman has the right to support their children to achieve their potential.
“It pleases me to know that these concerns are encapsulated in UNFPA’s mandate to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
“When I produced the movie DRY, I told the story of millions of girls in Africa who are forced to be child brides.
“I encapsulated in Halima’s tears, the sorrow, pain and health complications that arise from marrying too early and getting pregnant too soon.”
The ambassador said that two years after the film’s production, she has not stopped raising her voice or using her platform to advocate for the rights of women and adolescent girls.
Stephanie Linus said she has been advocating their right to equality, education and access to reproductive healthcare and information, including access to family planning.
Statistics reveal that Africa has the highest maternal death burden in the world. Although West and Central Africa accounts for 6 percent of the world population, it contributes to 40 per cent of the world maternal deaths.