News & Articles

In Northeast Nigeria, transforming norms and shifting paradigms surrounding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is critical to ensuring the well-being and empowerment of individuals in the region. Traditional norms and cultural practices often limit access to comprehensive SRHR information and services, leading to numerous challenges. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of transforming norms for SRHR rights in Northeast Nigeria, discuss the impact of cultural norms on SRHR, and highlight strategies to promote positive change.

1. The Influence of Cultural Norms on SRHR:
Cultural norms play a significant role in shaping attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions surrounding SRHR in Northeast Nigeria. The impact of traditional practices, patriarchal norms, and harmful customs on SRHR rights is overwhelming. The Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023 emphasizes the importance of understanding the context and dynamics of cultural norms to effectively address SRHR challenges and promote positive change, and one of the identified ways to approach such is to influence the cultural norms that exists within the region.

2. Breaking the Silence: Challenging Stigma and Taboos:
Stigma and taboos surrounding SRHR contribute to the limited discussion and understanding of these topics in Northeast Nigeria. The need to break the silence and challenge stigma through open and respectful dialogue will aid in challenging survivors and persons at large to speak up towards the impact. Breaking the silence highlights the importance of community engagement, religious and traditional leaders’ involvement, and media campaigns to promote accurate information, debunk myths, and reduce stigma surrounding SRHR.

3. Empowering Women and Girls:
Women and girls in Northeast Nigeria often face multiple barriers in accessing SRHR information and services. This is a critical part and approach, and it explores the importance of empowering women and girls to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive well-being. It emphasizes the need for gender equality, education, economic empowerment, and the promotion of women’s agency to transform norms and improve SRHR outcomes.

4. Engaging Community Leaders and Gatekeepers:
Community leaders and gatekeepers, including religious and traditional leaders, play a crucial role in influencing norms and shaping community behaviors. Through useful discussions and engagement at local levels, the significance of engaging these key stakeholders in promoting positive SRHR norms can quickly be achieved. It emphasizes the importance of advocacy, sensitization programs, and collaboration with influential community leaders to address SRHR challenges and foster supportive environments.

5. Education as a Catalyst for Change:
Education serves as a powerful catalyst for transforming norms and promoting SRHR rights. We spoke about the importance of education and the educational system of Nigeria in addressing SRHR. It ignites value and importance for comprehensive SRHR education in schools and communities. It emphasizes the need for age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and gender-responsive education that provides accurate information, promotes healthy behaviors, and challenges harmful norms and practices.

6. Strengthening Health Systems:
A robust health system is essential for ensuring access to quality SRHR services. This section discusses the importance of strengthening health systems in Northeast and Nigeria at large, addressing SRHR challenges effectively by integrating good health infrastructures and systems . The need for trained healthcare providers, accessible healthcare facilities, and the provision of comprehensive SRHR services, including family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, STI prevention and treatment, and safe abortion services where legal is paramount.

7. Amplifying Community Voices and Grassroots Movements:
Community voices and grassroots movements are instrumental in driving change at the local level. This signifies and amplifies community voices, supporting grassroots initiatives, and fostering community-led advocacy for SRHR rights. It emphasizes the role of platforms for community dialogue, youth-led movements, and civil society organizations in empowering communities and effecting positive change.

Transforming norms and shifting paradigms surrounding SRHR rights in Northeast Nigeria is crucial for ensuring the well-being and empowerment of individuals in the region. By challenging harmful norms, engaging community leaders, promoting education, strengthening health systems, and amplifying community voices, we can pave the way for positive changes in SRHR outcomes. Let us work together to create a society that upholds and respects the SRHR rights of all individuals in Northeast Nigeria.

Thank you.

By Hassan Mathias Kabulu