Rise Up is pleased to launch our Impact Blog Series for the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. This series highlights the work of two Champions for Change (C4C) leaders in Nigeria and one Youth Champions Initiative (YCI) leader from India. C4C’s Champions in Nigeria are working together to save the lives of mothers, children and young women through innovative advocacy and leadership development. YCI’s Champion in India is working to lead the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) movement for the next generation.
This series brings a diversity of perspectives to the table to discuss their critical work in driving the progress in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights, as well as sharing the impact they have made through partnerships, awareness raising, and innovation.
We are featuring an interactive discussion with Francesca Adeola Abiola of Action Health Inc., an NGO in Nigeria dedicated to promoting young people’s health and development to ensure their successful transition to healthy and productive adulthood; Wale Adeleye of Civil Society for Family Planning, an NGO in Nigeria dedicated to addressing various aspects of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health advocacy, with a special interest in family planning; and Gayatri Parameswaran of Love Matters, a global platform about love, sex, relationships, and everything in between for young adults in India.
In the first part of this series, Rise Up speaks with Wale Adeleye, National Coordinator, Civil Society for Family Planning, Abuja, Nigeria and C4C Champion, Rise Up.
RISE UP: As we know, there are many international non-profit organizations working in Nigeria. Why did you opt to be part of the PHI/RISE UP program specifically? What skills do you hope to acquire and what do you intend to do with this new knowledge and skills?
Wale: I am involved in the PHI/RISE UP program because it is going to build my capacity to really become a champion and push for the reproductive health rights of women. It will also well position me to advocate for necessary policies. I hope to acquire a strong set of advocacy skills which I intend to use to further the work of improving the lives of mothers in Nigeria.
RISE UP: Why are you a champion for women’s and children’s health issues in Nigeria?
Wale: I once worked for a health reform advocacy organization, which gave me insights into what women face in terms of their sexual and reproductive health rights. I vowed to become an advocate for women’s rights because reproductive health must be valued as a “best buy” by the Nigerian government and as a vehicle for improved maternal and child health. The area I am most passionate about in RMNCH is women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.
RISE UP: What is the biggest challenge you face as an advocate for women and children’s health?
Wale: The biggest challenges I face in this work are religious and cultural factors which inhibit our advocacy efforts.
RISE UP: What success are you most proud of in your professional career?
Wale: One major success was the recent approval for the enlistment of Emergency Contraceptives on Nigeria’s Essential Drug List (EDL) and of course the signing into law of the National Health Act.
RISE UP: What’s your vision for the future of health care in Nigeria?
Wale: My vision for the future of Nigeria’s health system is such that health is not only equitable, but accessible and affordable to all, irrespective of status. When women, newborns, and children have adequate access to good quality health services and information there will be new life and new possibilities.
RISE UP: What has been the impact of your work?
Wale: Since the beginning of implementation, 11 women (ages 20-50) who are leaders of various CSOs were trained on policy advocacy using AAFP SMART tool. Indirectly, at least 22 women will benefit from step down training from the 11 trained CSO leaders’ (women) organizations. By the end of the project, 30 Female CHEWs will be impacted directly by this project when task shifting policy is adopted by Gombe state. Through this project, 11 women from CSOs who are our allies were trained in policy advocacy. Currently 2 women are working on the project directly. All these put together will impact 43 women directly.
We invite you to follow us on Twitter at @RiseUp_Together and use the hashtag #WD2016 to engage more closely with the Impact Blog Series for Women Deliver, the work of the three leaders whose work is being highlighted, and the larger conversation surrounding reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health in Nigeria as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights in India.
Champions for Change is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported program of Rise Up and improves the lives of women and children in Nigeria by empowering local leaders and organizations to advance reproductive, maternal, newborn, adolescent and child health through advocacy, education, storytelling and strategic partnerships. Champions for Change leverages a program model developed by its sister initiative, Let Girls Lead, which contributes to improved health, education, livelihood and rights for nearly 40 million girls globally. This powerful model drives change through the passage of laws and policies, implementation of programs and distribution of funds to ensure access to quality healthcare, education and economic opportunity. Rise Up is headquartered at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA, a leader in global health and development for 50 years.