Gagarabadau: Challenging social norms in Northern Nigeria

Gender equality   |   7 June 2024   |   2 min read

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In 2021, MSI Nigeria and ThinkPlace set out to look at how they could engage men to be more supportive of birth spacing in their communities. Design research highlighted the role of social norms in Northern Nigeria, which influenced perceptions that men with many children demanded more respect, and that women’s value was supported by their childbearing ability.

The team identified a Hausa word “Gagarabadau”, which means a respected man, and set out to see how this could be infused with a refined meaning – to link respect with men’s ability to care for their children, instead of emphasizing the total number. They worked with local tea vendors, who were the centre of community conversations, to build their business, while also engaging them as conversation starters. At the same time, the tea vendor’s wives were included in the business training, enabling them to contribute to the family income.

The intervention helped to shift men’s support for the value of birth spacing, encouraged the tea vendors and their wives to be champions for contraception, and empowered women to have a stronger voice in decision-making, by increasing their contribution to family income. The approach is now being scaled to additional areas of northern Nigeria.


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