Innovations for equity

Imaging Mothers as Role Models: The making of the FHS Nigeria flyer

In Research communications, Uncategorized on November 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm


Future Health Systems Consortium has invested in communications – to ensure that decision makers are aware of our work and encourage its uptake into policy and practice.

It sounds simple, but actually we have learnt a lot over the years while working together, including about the passion and sensitivities of communities and governments regarding communication materials. In Nigeria, we have been using the consortium flyer with an image of a Chinese woman and her child to advertise the partnership. Often it gave us an opportunity to talk about the international nature of the work and what it means to work in partnership. But it tended to attract a plethora of comments from Nigerian stakeholders. Such comments have stimulated the thought of FHS country team to develop a flyer of our own – one that would be meaningful to stakeholders in the sense that it reflects the culture and the communities we are working with.

The hunt for a Nigerian picture

But finding an appropriate image for the flyer was more complicated than might be expected. We wanted the process of developing the flyer to be part of our ongoing engagement with researchers, community members, communication professionals and implementers and hoped that it might facilitate closer links between the players involved and help us develop consensus.

To incentivize photographers and potential models, we decided to hold a competition. The winning model would get a prize of 25,000 Naira (about US$175). We felt that this would be compensation for the time and effort of posing.

Our first stop was the Institute of Child Health at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. The Director suggested that we work with the programme officer in charge on immunization to make contact with mothers with children under-five from all socio economic groups using the service. Some women were happy to be involved and we got their consent and that of their partners to photograph the mother and her baby. To spread the net further we also photographed in a particular community. The pictures were taken by a professional photographer (who got a stipend) and 2 FHS researchers (who did not get a stipend). The photographers were accompanied by a media representative – who offered advice on the type of image that might be most compelling.

Decision time

With various photographs taken, we wanted all stakeholders to be involved in choosing of the best. Separate groups of male and female community members made the first long list. Discussions in the groups were fascinating. The women were concerned about the way the relationship between mother and child was portrayed – the glance and smile between the two. In the men’s group, there was quite some discussion about dress – what outfits were ‘Nigerian’ and ‘appropriate’.

You can see the runners up here.From a short list of 3 mothers and their children a group of FHS researchers and our media colleagues, from Radio Nigeria and the Nigeria Tribune, made the final cut. Click on the link to see the winning image on the FHS Nigeria Flier 2010. All of the longlisted entries were great and you can see a selection below.

Mother and child

mother and child 2

mother and child 3

Mother and child 4

mother and child 5

mother and child 6

We learnt a lot from the process – about different perceptions of beauty and of motherhood. In hindsight, it may have been better not to offer a cash incentive…and we are still thinking through how best to reward the runners up. But we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who helped us along the way. And please do circulate the flyer!

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