You might have read our recent update on the launch of Philia in Nigeria. Tanja is sharing her reflections from teaching Philia to a group of eight women at the organisation eHealth Africa in Kano, Nigeria:
“As I write this article, I have just completed the sixth week of teaching the Philia Peer Coaching method in Nigeria. The teaching experience has been hugely rewarding so far.
One of our major goals is to build a global network of empowered women who all connect through peer coaching and mutual support. Both Nicole and I have grown up in the Western world. Therefore, teaching Philia to women with a variety of cultural backgrounds is an important learning experience that will help us to further shape our programme.
So what exactly has teaching Philia in Nigeria taught me?
First and foremost, I realised that women’s empowerment is at least as important in African countries as it in Europe. The idea of women’s empowerment resonated with literally every single woman I spoke to wherever they were coming from and whatever their background. Every individual has challenges to face but women have challenges of their own. This showed me that we are on the right track and that our mission matters to people.
What is more, I learned that the concept of peer coaching also makes sense in the Nigerian context. The women agreed that it is important to enhance their communication skills in order to be less judgemental and more constructive when they discuss dreams and problems with other women. My impression is that Nigerian women are generally very ambitious and have a lot of drive. This might have to do with the fact that Nigerian parents seem very keen to foster their children’s education.
I also learned a lesson about Western stereotypes regarding Islam. In Germany, where I come from, we tend to see headscarves as a sign of female submissiveness to men. Several of the women in my Nigerian women’s empowerment group wear headscarves and they absolutely subverted this stereotype. They are strong women and independent thinkers, who are far from being submissive to anyone. It taught me to be much more open-minded about religious and cultural customs.
Looking forward to sharing more of my learnings in future posts!”
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