This success story from the Women for Health programme considers the broader impact of the Foundation Year Programme, an access scheme designed to help candidates overcome poor schooling and achieve the academic qualifications needed to win a place on and succeed on a professional course. It examines other positive impacts that stem from giving young women from rural areas such a life-changing opportunity: greater confidence and social status, raised aspirations for women and girls in the participating communities, and changes to community attitudes to issues such as early marriage for daughters.
Other impacts on the young women include, raised confidence and self-esteem, economic empowerment and increased educational opportunities. In addition, these are likely to have wider ranging impacts, such as increased trust in indigenous female health workers and therefore an increase in the number of women seeking support from health facilities and trained professionals, and a positive knock-on effect on rates of maternal and newborn mortality in the northern region of Nigeria.
Since it began in 2012, the Women for Health programme has worked to address many of the practical and strategic challenges of increasing the number of female health workers, especially midwives, in rural areas of northern Nigeria. The programme recruits young women from rural areas and helps them to get professional training and return to their community as qualified health workers – where they can have the greatest impact on maternal, infant and child mortality and act as role models and champions.
“We don’t have indigenous female health workers in our community. We only have one from the south and our women here don’t want to deliver with her because of differences in religion, language and culture. But I’m sure when I start working more women will be willing to come for ANC and hospital delivery, because I’m from this community, they see me as a sister.”
FYP Student, Kano State