Through WRA campaign efforts, nearly 80,000 women in Nigeria have contributed their voices to demand their health rights and basic services – including water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in health facilities, respectful care, more female providers, and essential medicines and supplies. In 2021 in Niger State, advocates used that chorus of voices to break through government bureaucracy and pressure the state to release long-promised healthcare funds to local communities.
Since 2014, the federal government had promised to increase funding to local healthcare facilities. But much of that money remained tied up at the national and state levels, inaccessible to local healthcare providers. Tired of waiting for the promised funds while people were suffering, WRA Nigeria organized a series of town halls to educate citizens about the funds and find out what they wanted from their primary healthcare services. Armed with this feedback, they attended budget review meetings with government leaders. The infusion of community and women’s voices calling for primary healthcare lent urgency to the issue and ultimately helped convince state agencies to fully release funds to health facilities in all 274 wards.
More local funding for healthcare wasn’t the only result. The influential local health committees that monitor and direct how primary healthcare funds are spent now include women, which wasn’t always the case. Today those women play a key role in directing how funds are spent – with the result that WASH upgrades, midwives, delivery kits, and maternal health medicines are gaining priority in spending decisions.