Engaging Ogun State’s Traditional Leaders Leads to Greater Acceptance of Family Planning
Engaging religious and traditional leaders as family planning champions is an important part of The Challenge Initiative’s advocacy efforts because, as trusted sources of information, these community leaders can actively support and promote family planning in their communities.
In Ogun State, Nigeria, Oba Adeniyi, was recently decorated as a family planning champion during a ceremony for other traditional leaders. The Oba was chosen in recognition of his positive efforts towards ensuring all his community members have access to quality health services, including family planning services. He has already demonstrated his commitment to other health interventions, such as vaccines. Oba Adeniyi often uses his own personal funds to transport vaccines to ensure they reach all within his area. He also personally engages trained healthcare professionals not on the government payroll to assist at the local health facility when demand is high and staffing is low.
Following the Oba’s formal recognition as a family planning champion, the SBCC Committee that TCI helped establish in Ogun State leveraged the two-day event to promote and provide family planning services. The ceremony on the second day was attended by Ogun’s opinion leaders, community leaders and other traditional leaders, making it the ideal platform for advocating for an enabling family planning environment.
After being named a family planning champion, the Oba asked all his chiefs and traditional leaders in attendance to go back home and preach the gospel of family planning, so women of reproductive age can live long and take care of their children and, thereby, reduce the maternal mortality rate.
The advocacy efforts during the event in Ogun paid off. Three women from the Igede tribe, whose culture does not believe in modern family planning, decided to take up a method.
“I have not been using family planning …. It is not our way of life, but with your explanation, I will tell my husband. If he is in support, then I will do it,” said one of the Igede women.
She then fetched her husband and asked the TCI-trained social mobilizer, “Please tell him all you have told me.” After learning the benefits of family planning, her husband agreed that it would be a good idea for his wife to take up a method to benefit his family.