V4C - Voices 4 Change Nigeria

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Key Influencers: Religious and Traditional Leaders

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V4C aims to bring about transformational change in the status of women and girls, so that they are able to experience better development outcomes. This means challenging entrenched attitudes and norms related to being women and men, many of which are - consciously and unconsciously - reinforced by mostly male religious and traditional leaders and institutions (mostly characterised by patriarchal values and practises).

Religeous and Traditional LeadersOur work with these groups of leaders will also motivate and help them to influence the attitudes and behaviours of others towards gender norms, gender equality and women empowerment issues. V4C’s work with religious and traditional leaders and institutions has two key strands:

  1. Targeting attitudinal and behaviour change amongst religious and traditional institutions and leaders, especially in relation to social norms around masculinities.
  2. Working with religious and traditional institutions and leaders (particularly men) to bring about attitudinal, behaviour and policy change in the wider enabling environment. Changes in the attitudes and behaviours we seek are in three key areas: violence against women and girls (including changing attitudes and behaviour in men and boys in relation to power and violence), women’s leadership, and women’s decision-making.

V4C’s religious and traditional leaders’ strategy is informed by the following key principles:

  • Taking a long-term view: Changing attitudes and behaviours towards gender norms, gender equality and women’s empowerment is a complex and long-term process. The programme is identifying the most strategic entry points where it can achieve the greatest leverage. V4C will be attentive to emerging opportunities, and will work to identify and dialogue with suitable and interested parties that can carry on the work beyond the programme.
  • Working at multiple levels: Bringing about sustainable change in the attitudes and behaviours of religious and traditional leaders requires working at both individual and organisational levels. We believe that capacities and skills of these leaders should be strengthened while promoting greater awareness and will among them. Engaging with the leaders and faith-based organisations in this way will support a more strategic, effective and sustainable engagement.
  • Working with others: There is existing experience amongst civil society organisations in Nigeria of engaging religious and traditional leaders on social issues. V4C will build collaborative and learning relationships with these stakeholders. The programme will also work to identify existing gender equality champions amongst religious and traditional leaders, as well as to cultivate new ones.
  • Ensuring ownership and promoting collaboration: Given the highly sensitive nature of working with religious and traditional leaders on gender issues, any activities must be owned, endorsed and, where possible, hosted by national actors. This is critical for ensuring that initiatives are relevant to context, have the buy-in of key stakeholders, and have good potential for sustainability. V4C will support attitudes, behaviours, processes and structures which enable engagement and dialogue between different actors, and encourage engagement, dialogue, and collaboration on key issues.
  • A focus on learning: V4C’s work develop effective monitoring and evaluation approaches which can monitor change, and record and share lessons learned to inform future programmes in Nigeria and internationally