Nigeria Toolkit: Advocacy
What is it?
Recognizing that religious leadership is very strategic and key to the success of the family planning response, TCI Nigeria established active and vibrant Interfaith Forums in TCI-supported states. Currently, they have been established in eight TCI-supported states while initial orientation has taken place in Taraba and Rivers states and the interfaith forums there are just awaiting their official inauguration. TCI’s advocacy work with religious leaders has produced vibrant champions who not only serve as inspiring voices for childbirth spacing/family planning (CBS/FP) in the communities but have also gone a step further to engage in extensive activities that ensure their congregations understand the benefits of CBS/FP and access services.
Why is it important?
- Build support and acceptability of CBS/FP across communities, including among religious leaders and other community leaders and members
- Enhance credibility to family planning advocacy activities, since religious leaders are positive voices and influencers within the community
- Dispels myths and misperceptions about family planning services and serve as change agents, speak positively to their members/followers about the importance of family planning
- Promote greater appreciation of religious injunctions on aspects of health care delivery and health seeking for the benefit of followers
What are the steps for implementing this approach?
- Mapping religious institutions and leaders
- Select influential religious leaders from the mapping
- Orient selected religious leaders on the benefits of FP/CBS and religious perspectives and sermon note
- Establish the interfaith forum and train media on FP messages, SMART Advocacy, develop 12-month plan and coach them on reporting
- Provide printed information packages (religious perspectives, sermon note and other advocacy kits) with targeted messages
- Identify and share platforms for delivering FP/CBS messages
- Conduct routine meeting of Interfaith Forum
The TCI Tutorial below features a webinar held in December 2019 to introduce Nigeria’s Interfaith Forum approach to promoting family planning.
Intervention in action
Voices of religious leaders across supported states continue to rise in support of FP/CBS using their different platforms. The Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and a member of the Interfaith Group in Abia State organized an outreach to Church Leaders in Ukwa East LGA to sensitize them on the need to speak openly in support of FP/CBS during their sermons. The leaders were sensitized on the need and benefits of FP/CBS while Christian Religious Perspective and Sermon notes were shared to all present.
Following the SMART Advocacy training conducted by TCI for the interfaith group in Plateau state and the development of an action plan to reach a wider audience with CBS messages, the Interfaith Forum had an interactive session on CBS with 135 members of the Girls Brigade Group. The Forum also interacted with pastors during their induction course organized by Evangelical Church Winning All HQ in Jos. Questions related to both clinical and scriptural aspects of family planning were asked, and answers provided with biblical verses to substantiate. The inducted pastors also requested for the Hausa version of the sermon notes to serve as a guide for them to use in their local churches.
A total 98 Muslim women leaders from the 20 LGAs of Ogun State attended the state Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) meeting. The Vice-Chairman FP Interfaith Forum of the state addressed the women on the importance of family and life planning and advocated to the Muslim women leaders to champion the cause of good health among Muslim women through family planning services. The State FP Coordinator was also in attendance to address concerns raised on family planning.
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Involving religious leaders adds credibility to FP activities because they are positive voices in the community.CorrectIncorrect
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Religious leaders should be provided with sermon notes that use biblical verses to support family planning.CorrectIncorrect
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