This policy brief focuses on examining gender norms and transforming lives in Nigeria. Africa Transformation (AT) seeks to address persistent cultural and traditional practices that facilitate and entrench gender inequality in communities in Nigeria and thus limit the possibility of the country achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). AT takes the approach that gender barriers and norms can and have negatively impacted on the health and development of men, women, children and communities. A process of critical examination through the use of video profiles enables both women and men to determine which gender norms are no longer relevant to their well-being and which ones are appropriate and should be positively promoted.
The real life stories portrayed in the AT profiles show how gender roles are constructed and can be modified; how gender barriers can be broken down; and how harmful gender norms and practices that negatively impact on communities can be challenged and replaced with those that are more positive.
The AT initiative was piloted in seven communities (three in Kaduna state and four in Kano state) over the period 2007-2008. Implementing partners were local Community Based Organisations (CBOs). Fourteen facilitators were trained to lead community sessions attended by 532 women and men. In all communities where AT sessions took place, male participants came to realise that women had been overburdened over the years, while the female participants believed that the AT initiative presented a new way of thinking and acting. Early results from the pilot suggested that these shifts in attitudes were likely to impact positively on health-seeking behaviour and health outcomes.
Although AT was implemented with only seven communities, the approach shows great potential. It will be challenging to maintain the momentum in those communities, and to expand the initiative beyond.
Key steps in the design and implementation of AT were:
- Needs assessment visit
- Selection of implementing NGO and Technical Advisory Group (TAG)
- Technical design meetings
- Revisions to profiles and facilitators guide
- Pre-test of the revised facilitators guide and video profiles
- Training of Master Trainers
- Selection of communities
- On-site assessment of potential community based implementing partners
- Selection of facilitators
- Training of facilitators
- Advocacy visits
- Selection of participants
- Community sessions