Gendered Dimensions of Accountability to Address Health Workforce Shortages in Northern Nigeria
Northern Nigeria has some of the worst health indices in sub‑Saharan Africa. Poor health outcomes are the result of multiple factors, including the lack of front-line health workers in rural and hard-to-reach areas. In 2012, funded by UK aid and DFID, the Women for Health programme was created to address the issue of gendered barriers of access to health education programmes and the subsequent dearth of nurses and midwives. It emerged that a different kind of ‘accountability’ was required to achieve improved maternal health outcomes: holding to account powerful actors within the community for their role in creating barriers of access to education for women and girls, as well as barriers to the retention of female health workers. This article, drawn directly from programme activities in Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara states, documents strategies to shift gender norms that limit women’s professional choices and their access to quality maternal health services.