SDDirect played a leading role in the implementation of Voices for Change (V4C), the UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s £28m flagship programme (2012 - 2017) on strengthening the enabling environment for women and girls’ empowerment in Nigeria. SDDirect was responsible for technical leadership across the programme and for bringing together a team of Nigerian and international experts with technical expertise in the fields of gender equality, social norms, media and communications, and research and evidence. The consortium was led by Palladium (formerly GRM) and also includes Itad and Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).
V4C’s mission was to inspire a generation of new voices to ‘speak up and speak out’, empowering adolescent girls and young women to achieve their real and full potential. The programme sought to achieve this by:
- Creating spaces and opportunities for adolescent girls and young women to grow
- Getting the support of boys and men, particularly young men
- Challenging social norms that discriminate against girls and women in the Nigerian through an extensive communications programme and high profile brand
- Advocating and supporting legal and political change
- Generating and using research and evidence to support the change process.
At the heart of the programme was V4C’s media and communications approach. We recognised that changing gender norms required clear and consistent messaging over a long period, delivered from a strong brand that connected with young people. A key target of the programme were adolescent girls and boys (aged 16-25), who are the adults of tomorrow, whose attitudes and behaviour are still being formed, and who will help create the clamour for change.
The programme focused on norm change in three key areas: violence against girls and women, women’s leadership and women’s role in household decision making. The programme developed an exciting ‘Purple’ brand which captured young peoples imagination, through a radio programme, a lifestyle website, a ‘Purple Academy’, extensive use of social media and strong linkages between the communications and other programme activities.
We also targeted in particular those who have influence, including religious figures, political leaders, media and sports personalities, and activists, as well as those with more local-level social influence. These influencers helped provide the momentum and critical mass that will deliver long–term change in acceptable attitudes and behaviour towards girls and women.
Recognising that bringing about these changes in society is a complex, long-term undertaking, V4C used a combination of strategies on social transformation from around the world, and international experience on social behaviour change and is rapidly emerging as an internationally recognised highly innovative programme in its own right.
The programme was featured as part of the 2016 edition of the Gender 360 Summit as an example of groundbreaking initiatives on behalf of gender equality.