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Empowering Strong Girls for a Safer Living

StrongGirlNetwork through Anti-Sugar Daddy Class aims at reducing high-risk sexual behaviours on the danger of engaging in transactional sex

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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Nigeria is plagued with widespread HIV/AIDS INFECTION & TEENAGE PREGNANCY. The prevalence of this menace is highest in Northern Nigeria which is fueled by high level of illiteracy and further aggravated by armed conflict which has led to prolonged internal displacement. Of the 19 states labelled "educationally disadvantaged," 17 are in the North. Girls and women are the most affected by these crises. They often seek refuge from attacks and violence in displaced people’s camp or new communities, but instead of being protected they get subjected to increased sexual violence and vulnerabilities. A means of survival for most displaced girls is involvement in transactional sex leading to unwanted pregnancy and cycle of sexual infections e.g .HIV

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

The limitation of the Nigerian girl child not having access to information or education on sexual and reproductive rights because of the religious, societal and cultural barriers.

Explain Your Idea

The Strong Girl network will empower displaced Nigerian girls with comprehensive sexual health education, psycho-social support and skill based vocational training to reduce involvement in transactional sex. Our theory of change is that educating young girls about the dangers of transactional sex especially with high level pictorial statistical evidences while empowering them with an alternate means of sustainable livelihood from skill acquisition programs is a great way to reduce vulnerability to unwanted pregnancy, sexual exploitation and HIV infections. ‘End of Term Desk Review Report of the 2010-2015 National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan’ says “Early sexual debut is common in Nigeria, which begins at less than 15 years old for 15% of Nigeria's youth. Therefore our sexual education programme will also include the adoption and benefits of contraceptives as an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Delivered by youths for youths, our anti-transactional sex education will be at the community and secondary schools levels. A follow up on this is a psycho-socio support programme (especially those already suffering the consequences e.g. pregnant teenagers) including counselling and mentorship of young girls by our team of volunteers, after which they are empowered with available categories of skill based training and soft non-cash startup loans (we fund the purchase of the startup equipment and materials)

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

(1)Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy & HIV: An enlightened young girl on the risks associated with transactional sex is less likely to embrace it reducing the risk of getting unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection. She is able to make informed decisions about her sexual preferences and has alternate means of sustainable livelihood through her acquired skill.
(2)Prevention of Forced Child Marriage: Acquiring vocational training helps to prevent this as most girls are considered liability thereby marrying them off early
(3)Psycho-social Support : Our psycho-social support and mentoring programme will help transform them from passive victims to active survivors, build up their self-esteem to prevent vulnerability to sexual coercion

How is your idea unique?

Reports have shown that in combating HIV and Teenage Pregnancy, campaigns on risk reduction are more effective than risk avoidance. Providing information on the level of safety of sexual engagement with different categories of partner choices will help shift girls from engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors (sexual engagement with older partners who are more prone to HIV in exchange for money- transactional sex) to low risk sexual behaviors. But many anti-HIV and Teenage Pregnancy interventions across Nigeria and Africa focus their campaigns on preaching complete abstinence which is “risk avoidance” neglecting “risk reduction” messages which is proven to be a great margin along which the problems can be solved.
While other initiatives provide sexual health education programme without providing an alternate route to financial predicament, the Strong Girl Network will provide vocational training and soft startup loan as a replacement to preventing them from returning to old ways.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

The questions of how to ensure the repayment of the small business micro-loans. We are looking at the feasibility of crowdfunding the loans from micro-lending websites like KIVA.org. But how to ensure that startup loans get paid on time or at all has not been totally figured. Although we have resolved to make this loan non-cash based by buying the materials needed for the business to kick-start in a bid to prevent the diversion of funds, we still worry much on this.

Who are your end users?

Girls between the ages 15-24 who are engaging in transactional sex as a means of survival because their families cannot cater for their needs due to forced displacement.Our sexual health counseling helps shift them from this behavior, psycho-social support builds their self-esteem and teaching them vocational skills with provision of microloans helps restore their dignity. These also includes those who are also currently facing the consequences e.g. teenage moms and pregnant teens who are unable to proceed with schooling.These group will benefit majorly from our skill acquisition programme as dropping out of school without a vocational skill makes them more vulnerable to forced marriages and intimate partner violence as child brides

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Nigeria

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

Our primary proposed implementation is northern Nigeria where armed conflict has displaced more than 1.8 million internally especially in the North East. This particular region is known for high discrimination against women with prevalent cases of forced child marriages and high illiteracy levels. Food shortages, lack of security and deepening poverty mean conditions are dire for many northern Nigerian families.A gender bias culture provides boys with more opportunities than girls.

What is your organization's name?

Strong Girl Network

Tell us more about you.

I am Aderoju Okunsanmi, a young leader passionate about volunteering for social causes who believes there is no better & faster way to actualize the change we seek than to be actively involved in its process. I founded and lead the Strong Girl Network, a team of young change agents. There is no doubt an intervention like this is best delivered by youths who have first-hand knowledge, an age group we represent. Our ability to deliver this in a youthful and creative way yet not deviating from the core mission will help us realize the proposed impact faster. Our various experience working and delivering poverty interventions plus passion & commitment is one thing my team has that puts us in the best position to implement this idea.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • Youth-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

We are located in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria. We have 6 members on the team including myself. They are all based in different zones of Nigeria.

What is your organizational status?

  • Not registered but plan to in the future.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: Tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Website

http://www.stronggirlnetwork.org.ng/
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Attachments (2)

Stories of Change.pdf

Stories of How Empowering young Girls combined with Skill Acquisition has worked well in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

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Aderoju.. welldone

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