30 May Nigeria project encourages female leadership in church groups
A project in Lagos state, Nigeria that was supported by WACC helped women in faith groups promote better understanding and greater awareness of HIV and AIDS and the effects of HIV related stigmatization and discrimination in the church.
“Strengthening Behaviour Change Communication” engaged the leadership of women groups and marriage counselling units in selected churches from five localities in Lagos State as well as journalists and people living with HIV.
Through this project, the group Journalists Against AIDS was able to contribute to shaping attitudes and promoting open discussions about HIV within these churches. The activities carried out involved advocacy visits, planning meetings, a three-days training and participants’ step–down trainings in their respective churches.
Through role plays, interactive discussions, and case studies, the training equipped participants with communication skills and strategies.
Some of the female leaders, including pastors’ wives, were trained to create platforms where HIV and preventing mother-to-child transmission issues were discussed from the pulpit. Some who were also youth pastors were equipped with skills to discuss sex and other related issues with youths from an informed perspective.
The Methodist Church in Mushin held a sensitization for 100 teenagers on basic facts about HIV and AIDS, addressing myths and misconceptions and stigma and discrimination while The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) organised a youth outreach at a viewing centre where young people were invited to watch a major football tournament. The youth leaders used the opportunity of periods before the start of the match as well as the half time to highlight key HIV and AIDS issues and why young people need to protect themselves from HIV infection and address issues that increase their vulnerability to HIV. About 1,500 male and female youths were in attendance.
Key outcomes of the interventions:
- Participants’ expressions of referring to persons living with HIV as victims was corrected and appropriate non stigmatising terminologies introduced.
- Twenty-seven participants were trained to communicate about HIV and AIDS and the role of the church in addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
- The project contributed to more open discussions and mobilizing of members to address HIV in the churches targeted.
- Female leaders, married men from the counselling team from five localities in Lagos church and female journalists were trained in communication skills and strategies to reduce stigma, discrimination and denial.
- Aside from direct beneficiaries, about 2,117 people were reached with information on HIV and related issues from the step down activities and outreaches.