National Key Influencers Dialogue & Consensus Building For Stronger Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights Movements In Nigeria

National Key Influencers Dialogue & Consensus Building For Stronger Sexual And Reproductive Health And Rights Movements In Nigeria

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Youth Network for Community and Sustainable Development

The Youth Network for Community and Sustainable Development is a youth-led movement catalysing social change by engaging young people on critical sexual and reproductive issues affecting them and amplifying their voices to speak for Human Rights, through targeted advocacy to key players, capacity building and development, communications and media engagements, partnerships and program implementation. We also work on a broad range of issues such as Gender, Governance and Environment.

Over the years, we have been catalyzing efforts of young people towards ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and gender based violence, through effective programming that transforms Social Norms underpinning these practices as well as promoting reproductive health and Rights. We have consistently advocated for the provision of comprehensive abortion and post abortion care to women and girls in Nigeria. Furthermore, we have a rigorous portfolio on decriminalising LGBTI+ activities in Nigeria.

Our approach is about robust advocacy, in-depth research, policy negotiation, youth engagements/partnerships, capacity building and development of young people because we believe that when young people come together to speak in one voice against a social issue, the world listens! We also engage relevant stakeholders to make commitments towards solving identified challenges.

We believe that no one should be left behind in the campaign to make the world a better place for women and girls.

The TSON II project is aimed at building up on the first Phase funding from AmplifyChange. The Project targets to transform social norms that underpin the continued practice of FGM/C in 4 states in Nigeria. To achieve this; the Project will work closely with traditional rulers and influential religious leaders, young people and the traditional cutters themselves to change norms, attitudes and expectations at the community level towards FGM/C.

The Project will work with Ministries of Education across the four states to advocate for the inclusion of FGM/C into state education curriculum. For states where this has already been included, advocacy efforts will be targeted at implementation of the curriculum as well as building capacity of school teachers on the subject matter.

Results from the first Phase of the project indicate that creating partnerships with gatekeepers is an effective way of transforming social norms that underpin FGM. The project would also leverage on the existing relationship with the National Circumcisers Association to drive massive traction and impact from key influencers

The Background Information

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations agencies as procedure that involves the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” The practice of FGM recognized as violation of the human rights of girls and women, which are codified in several international regional treaties. The Universal declaration of human rights has several articles that together form a basis to condemn FGM. [1]On December 20, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the nations of the world to eliminate FGM, a term used to refer to several different practices involving cutting of female Genital Organs for non- medical purposes. The resolution was aimed at ending the genital mutilation that has affected about 200 million women globally, according to the recent UNICEF report 2016. The practice often results in severe bleeding, difficulty urinating, cysts, infections, infertility, and complications in childbirth and can lead to an increased risk of death for new-borns (WHO, Supra). [2]Female Genital Mutilation has been documented in 30 countries mainly in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia.

Situation  Analysis

FGM remains widespread in Nigeria with regional and ethnic variations in prevalence. According to the MICS 2016 -2017, 18.4% of women aged 15-49 years had undergone FGM/C which is a decrease from 27% in 2011 (NBS & UNICEF 2011; NBS & UNICEF 2017).  Sadly though, the prevalence among daughters aged 0-14 years has increased from 19.2% in 2011 to 25.3% in 2016. In the UNFPA/UNICEF intervention states, the overall FGM prevalence among women aged 15-49 years ranged from 43.2% in Ebonyi to 67.8% in Osun state (NBS & UNICEF 2017). Decreases in FGM prevalence among women aged 15-49 years have occurred across the UNJP intervention states with the highest drop seen in Oyo state(Ebonyi: 62.3 % to 43.2%; Ekiti: 66.2% to 62.6%; Imo: 58.4% to 51.6%; Osun: 73.4% to 67.8 %; and Oyo: 71% to 55%). The highest decreases were observed in Imo (33.4% to 22.2%) and Oyo states (32.9% to 29.6%). A slight increase was seen in Ekiti from 40.3% to 41.7% and Osun from 33.4 to 34.6%. Although the prevalence among girls 0-14 years is lowest in Ebonyi, several Ebonyi communities cut girls from adolescence and above so this indicator might not give a true picture of FGM/C for that state (Ebonyi – 6.4% to 5.2%).

The MICS 2016 -2017 has revealed new hot spots for FGM/C in Nigeria. States such as Zamfara, Kaduna, and Jigawa all had an FGM/C prevalence less than 20% during the last MICS conducted in 2011. The recent survey however reveals a disturbing trend with very significant increase in prevalence among women age 15 -49 years (Zamfara

2.5% to 26.4%: Kaduna 19.0% to 39.3%: and Jigawa 2.0% to 14.4%) and more worryingly among girls aged 0-14 years (Zamfara 5.0% to 58.2%: Kaduna 38.3% to 63.1%: Jigawa 36.9% to 66.9%: and Kano 51.4% to 71.0%).

Regarding access to abortion services globally, reports indicate that 19 million unsafe abortions take place in developing countries annually. Every year, 5.5 million unsafe abortions take place in Africa resulting in over 36,000 maternal deaths (Please state source). In their life time, “tens of millions of African women will experience an unsafe abortion”

Abortion is heavily restricted in Nigeria, with one set of laws applying in Northern Nigeria ( Penal Code) ad another set applying in southern Nigeria ( Criminal Code). While these laws provide rooms for interpretation, the generally accepted understanding across the nation is that abortion ins legally prohibited with the limited exception of cases where the womans pregnancy endangers her life.

Many researchers estimate there may be as many as one million abortions procured in Nigeria annually but the largest evidence for the determination of the prevalence of abortion in Nigeria was provided by Henshaw et al in 1998. The latter undertook a national random sample survey in all public and private health establishments where abortions might be performed or its complications treated. They showed that about 87% of the induced abortions in Nigeria were performed in private health facilities and 13% in public facilities. About 40% of induced abortions in Nigeria were performed by physicians: 73% of whom were general practitioners, 10% were specialist Gynaecologists, 8% were other specialists and 8% others. Non-physicians provided 60% of induced abortions in Nigeria, and they included: pharmacists/chemists, paramedics, nurses/midwives, Traditional Birth Attendants and the women themselves.

Key objectives of the Convening

To complement the tremendous efforts being carried out at country level to end FGM, The Youth Network for Community and Sustainable Development (YNCSD) is organizing a one day National Key Influencers Forum on SRHR – TSON II (Transforming Social Norms II) with religious leaders (Christian and Islamic Religious leaders) and other non-traditional SRHR allies in 4 states/communities of intervention, it is hoped that during this dialogue, religious and traditional leaders will come to appreciate their unique role towards the advancement of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people especially women and girls. It is also expected that at the end of the Dialogue, the participants will establish the very first Inter-Religious Dialogue on SRHR. Action plans shall also be developed at the dialogue which shall be followed up closely by the YNCSD Team.

The forum will include a component aimed at equipping religious leaders with advanced knowledge on FGM/C and its complications in focus states, establishing an inter-religious forum against FGM/C in 4 four states. It is anticipated that this will add a new dimension to the End FGM/C Campaign in the 4 states and Nigeria. More so, prevalence and overview of unsafe abortion will also be discussed at the Dialogue where videos and group exercises will be conducted where the participants will independently review personal beliefs and opinions about how women/girls should treat their bodies. This will potentially lead the way to more discussions and dialogues around the subject matter in the 4 states of intervention ( Osun,Oyo,Imo & Ebonyi states) and Edo and Delta states for our safe abortion Projects.  It has become important to engage traditional and religious leaders to the national discourse on sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls in Nigeria

The training will review and identify gaps and opportunities for collaboration and support for FGM/C abandonment through the amplified efforts from the religious and traditional leaders. The following are key objectives:

  1. Build the capacity of religious leaders and non-traditional SRHR allies on the complications of FGM/C in order to strengthen their messages/sermons on ending Female Genital Mutilation at their communities in Nigeria;
  2. Support in the setup of a rigorous movement to end FGM/C and foster sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls in focus States.
  3. Create a channel where end FGM messages are preached during sermons (Christian & Islamic Sermons).
  4. Support traditional rulers to form a united front in the abandonment of FGM/C and other forms of Gender Based Violence in their communities.
  5. Seek a joint statement from religious leaders supporting women to make iformed choices on if, when and how any babies they want to use.
  6. Foster inter-religious collaborations to support women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights specific to access to safe abortion.


  1. Participants exposed to recent data and progress report on FGM/C and its complications;
  2. A formulation of an inter-religious forum against FGM/C to strengthen the campaign to end FGM in Nigeria;
  3. Formulation of a Joint Statement by Religious Leaders on their resolved commitment towards pushing for the abandonment of FGM/C and other forms of Gender Based Violence.
  4. Public support by religious calling for easy access to abortion services by women and girls.


The meeting will bring together 10 representatives of each state from both religious bodies. This will give a total of 20 participants.

Date and Venue:

The workshop will be held for 2 days tentatively from the 27th April and 4th May 2019. Given that we are adopting context specific programming, this dialogue will hold at a venue to be confirmed in Ibadan state and Enugu state.


[1] Global Legal Monitor. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2018, from

[2] Female genital mutilation (FGM). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2016, from