By Esenvosa Izah
A renowned Nollywood Actress, Stephanie Okereke-Linus, was on Wednesday unveiled as the Regional Ambassador for Maternal Health in West and Central Africa Region by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole in Lagos.
Adewole was represented by Mr Greg Izuwa, the Deputy Director, Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health at the unveiling ceremony organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Lagos.
According to him, she has been found worthy in character and in learning.
“We take that to what she is going to do as the ambassador.
“She went through rigorous screening before she was appointed.
“She has already been appointed, but we are now making the general public to know she is now the regional ambassador in West and Central Africa,’’ the minister said.
In her acceptance, Stephanie Okereke 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.
“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,’’ Stephanie Okereke said.
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 Okereke said that she has been advocating their right to equality, education and access to reproductive healthcare and information, including access to family planning.
“I am honoured to partner with UNFPA to create an enabling environment for women, girls and every young person to fulfil their potential.
“I will 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,’’ she said.