Traditional leaders advocate for female leaders and decision makers
V4C Case Studies
Women are being installed as fully titled chiefs and members of cabinet.
Traditional leaders (TLs), who are largely men and role models for their followers, can play a crucial part in promoting gender equality within the community. In Nigeria, where leadership roles have historically been allocated to males, traditional leaders are demonstrating that it is possible to break the mould by promoting women to top-level positions within their communities.
This case study looks at the people at the centre of the change as well as the observers of the change in order to understand how these outcomes have come about, as well as the impact of women’s participation in community decision-making more widely. It is the first one of a series of two describing the outcomes that are emerging among the traditional leaders that V4C supports. Each of the case study summaries focuses on specific outcomes and is drawn from the detailed case study report.
In an attempt to increase support from men and boys within communities, and to promote positive attitudes towards women and girls, V4C has sought to expand the pool of traditional leaders advocating for positive change within their communities. In 2015, V4C facilitated a two-day seminar on gender and masculinity for 26 male TLs from 17 Local Government Areas in Enugu State. It also organised a series of meetings in 2016 for ‘key women influencers’ as well as events that promoted dialogue between young people and traditional leaders from their communities. These interventions built on those of others working within the community including current programmes addressing GEWE and previous ones such as SAVI.
Since these activities, a palpable shift has taken place within some of the traditional and modern decision-making bodies of four communities in Enugu State visited by V4C as part of its monitoring and evaluation work. Whereas in the past, women may have held low-key advisory positions; they are now taking top leadership roles, and in some instances have been installed as fully titled chiefs – for the first time.
Different pathways towards this change emerged, with a variety of factors prompting the TLs to rethink their view, or to make the decision to take action. For some leaders, the most valued contribution of V4C has been as a catalyst – helping them to see how they could go about implementing change – how they can approach the change, and what kinds of things they can begin to work on, with whom. In all cases, the TLs themselves have proved to be the facilitators of these changes with V4C providing minimal support beyond the initial awareness raising activities.