The Challenge Initiative’s (TCI) demand generation interventions in Nigeria are designed to promote state-led and institutionalized social and behavior change processes and structures. Social mobilization is a key component of TCI’s demand generation strategy and plays a crucial role in making family planning a norm. Social mobilizers are selected across TCI-supported areas, then trained and equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools required to carry out social mobilization activities in their communities.
These activities – including neighborhood campaigns, voluntary mobilization, association meetings, key life events, inreaches and outreaches – are designed to disseminate family planning messages. The married couple profiled below are from Gombe state and were among the community members effectively reached with critical information and knowledge through TCI social mobilization activities that helped change their mindset to accept family planning methods.
Shamsiya, a 29-year-old mother of eight children with five surviving, is married to Mahadi.
Before now, there were a lot of bad things we used to hear about family planning, and honestly, I did not want to take it even when my husband recommended it. Apart from the bad information, there was no one I could discuss family planning with and ask questions. That is how I continued having short-spaced birth. It was difficult because the space between one pregnancy and another was so short that it was as if I were nursing twins. If a woman is able to rest, she can take care of herself, her children, and even her husband. Meanwhile, taking care of children without adequate spacing is very tasking. You are taking care of this one [one child], and before you finish, this one [another child] will need your attention, and so on. This, of course, is not a small task. But with this plan, there is a great relief for me.”
Shamsiya said she was very thankful that the mobilizers were persistent in their family planning outreach, even though she was initially not receptive. She also thanked her husband Mahadi for insisting that she go to the facility based on what he learned about family planning in the community through social mobilization efforts.
Mahadi, 40 years-old, recognized the benefits of family planning.
I came home, and my wife told me that some women [mobilizers] are advocating for family planning, and they visited her some days ago. I told her it was a good thing because my friend’s wife was also doing it [utilizing family planning] and was helping them space their children, which gave the wife opportunity to school, but my wife refused. I even asked her parents to help talk to her, but she refused, saying I wanted to bring a second wife, and that was why I did not want her to continue having children for me. Today, I am a very happy man because I cater well for my children. In fact, they are in private school now. I feed and clothe them well, unlike in the past when my money was always spent on nursing babies because my wife gives birth like every year. My economic status has improved. I rear animals and even take care of other people’s needs. This life is about planning; you have to plan well to raise good children in the society.”
In addition to the successful community mobilization efforts, his testimonial showcases male involvement in and support for family planning, which is a critical issue related to gender equality in the Northern part of Nigeria.