#NoHoodieNoHoney: UNFPA Nigeria, AHI Empower NGOs to Advocate on Safer Sex

Nothing gets a girl out of school faster than unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. Likewise, nothing wakes a boy up to the realities of the bitter side of sex than when he realises that he is going to be a father soon. In both situations, none of them is prepared for the unprecedented turn of event that could create a stormy future for them.

Every year, two million girls under the age of 15 give birth globally and within this statistics, about 50,000 teenage girls die in Nigeria as a result of complications from pregnancy. Most of the time, this is due to unsafe abortion which contributes to at least 13 percent of maternal deaths.

Evidence of this growing scourge correlates with the fact that 52 percent of young women and 19 percent of young men in Nigeria aged 18-24 are sexually active and due to the high rates of unprotected sex, there has been growing influx of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs). Infact, research shows that 27 percent of male under this age bracket have multiple sexual partners compared to their female counterpart which is about 6 percent.

Contributing to this problem is the reality that culture and traditions have relegated girls and women to passive roles in sexual reproductive health and rights thereby leaving the decision to the boys who are expected to know better. Unfortunately, most boys who have been silently positioned to make decisions on sexual reproduction issues learn by instinct or from their peers who are no better incapacitated than they are. These problems extend to other issues of how and when to take contraceptive measures, how to rip and roll a condom right, negotiating skills when pressured with sex, and abstinence.

To address these issues, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria initiated the No Hoodie No Honey (#NoHoodieNoHoney) campaign to “contribute to putting the power into the hands of girls and young women to make informed choices about their sexual health,” especially the power to negotiate and insist on condom use.

Launched in 2013, #NoHoodieNoHoney (a parlance for “No condom, No sex”) is a social media campaign launched to empower girls aged 15-24 with accurate information and skills to practice safer sex.

According to UNFPA Nigeria, the #NoHoodieNoHoney leverages on the power of social media because now more than ever, there are millions of youths on the internet, and they mostly spend their time on the social media. The central element of the campaign is a 5 minutes (two-part) 3D animation video designed to stimulate discussions about the discomfort girls face and ways to overcome it.

Nevertheless, the #NoHoodieNoHoney campaign has been adopted offline into a comic book to enable the message spread to local communities where there is no access to electricity.

“One of the expectations which is very key and central to this campaign is to change perception of people about girls who have condoms because in the past and even up till now, people are still struggling with the perception that it is only bad girls who carry condoms. We are trying to make people understand that any girl who has condoms with her is not promiscuous. She is smart, brave and taking charge of her life,” Ms Adeola Olunloyo, the NPO – BCC & Advocacy at UNFPA Nigeria told Rural Reporters.

Last week, UNFPA Nigeria collaborated with Action Health Incorporated (AHI) in Lagos to build the capacities of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH)–focused NGOs in Nigeria on how to implement the #NoHoodieNoHoney campaign. The participants were also trained on how to use the #NoHoodieNoHoney facilitator’s guide to ensure that there is a standardized procedure in carrying out the campaigns and training in their respective field works across communities. NGOs present at the training include Education as a Vaccine (EVA), BraveHeart Initiative, Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) and Rural Reporters.

During the training, participants confirmed that there are several challenges in getting young people to access quality Sexual Reproductive Health. Some of these challenges includes: poor implementation of SRH policies, lack of youth friendly centers, lack of cordial relationship between young people and their parents, lack of access to information on SRH, gender inequality, cultural and religious norms, and unconducive legal environment amongst others.

However, through the #NoHoodieNoHoney campaign, the NGOs will help to contribute to the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDs among young people. They will also work together to generate active conversation around social media on safe sex while empowering young girls with accurate information on safer sex and the fact that shared responsibility is essential in every relationship.

Also, since the knowledge and usage of female condom is still very low, the #NoHoodieNoHoney campaign will help change gender stereotypes to make it “cool” for girls to carry and negotiate condom use and to orientate the society that girls who carry condoms are smart, brave and taking charge of their own life.

“We have been able to train fourteen organisations from different parts of Nigeria to spread the message, take it back home and incorporate it into their own programme. We are working with more partners so that more people who may not have access to the internet will still have access to this information either in rural areas or hard to reach areas,” Ms Olunloyo said.

To join the conversation, follow the #NoHoodieNoHoney hashtag on twitter.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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