Gender and Social Norms Consultancy
3d ago

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is sourcing a consultant to undertake a Gender and Social Norms Study for its project in Nigeria entitled Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment in Northern Nigeria (Nigeria WAY).

MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. MEDA is implementing a five year project in Bauchi State, in the north east region of Nigeria called Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment in Northern Nigeria (WAY).

The project works mainly in agro-processing activities of three value chains of soy, groundnuts and rice. These crops were selected because there is a high level of women involvement in their production, and because women indicated that processing of these crops is an opportunity for income as well as an incentive for production.

Nigeria WAY adopts a private sector approach which engages Lead Firms and commercial enterprises to include women and youth in their business practices including in supply chains, distribution networks and other market activities and encourages access to agro-technologies to reduce labour and time spent on processing by women.

Nigeria WAY is a women’s economic empowerment project taking place in Nigeria’s north eastern region, where girl-child marriage and gender-based violence is particularly commonplace.

Discriminatory gender and social norms drive gender inequalities in families and households, in the community, at state and federal levels, and in the marketplace.

The project is being implemented through three intermediate outcomes and with a gender equality and youth inclusion strategy which aims to strengthen women’s agency and access to necessary resources to anchor their successful business activities.

The change in gender equality is being measured through application of Gender Progress Markers. The project is being implemented with an environmental management plan and aims to minimize the environmental footprint of agro-processing activities.

The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada and is stewarded by the Feminist International Assistance Policy .

Nigeria WAY Rationale

Outcome 1300 points to a link between poverty, familial decision-making and restrictive gender and social norms, resulting in the disempowerment of women and girls and in Early and Forced Girl Child Marriage (EFGCM).

Specific results on this intermediate outcome relate to increasing cultural and social space to amplify and enable social and economic opportunities for women and girls with the aim for them to be empowered to make decisions about those issues that affect them.

As an entry point, girls hawking wares in the market is of concern to the communities, families and the state, as poverty is endemic, and gender-based violence is widespread.

Intermediate Outcome 1300 : Enhanced provision of community and family support to address issues of early marriage by promoting economic engagements one tool.

Nigeria WAY seeks to research and document aspects of women’s economic empowerment and its interaction with the context.

Gendered violence such as EFGCM and most importantly the major drivers of EFGCM and how socio-economic engagement could help to reduce the vulnerability of girls and strengthen families.

A diagnostic of women’s economic engagement and EFGCM was conducted in Bauchi in 2017. It concluded that several norms undervaluing women’s contribution combined with a gender-neutral agricultural policy which have been setting limits to women’s economic empowerment in the agriculture sector.

It also concluded that poverty, tradition and religion are the main interrelated drivers of EFGCM and that these factors combine to reinforce cultural and social norms that perpetuate the practice.

Other studies conducted in the region speak to the pervasiveness of the issue stemming from similar driving factors.1 From the data gathered during the Inception Mission and using MEDA’s gendered approach to project design and management, a gender equality and youth inclusion strategy was developed in 2017 which informs each of the three outcomes and seeks to maximise women’s agency and access to resources.

Social and Gender Norms Study

The social and gender norms study is innovative research that will identify the most prevalent norms that are sustaining given gender behaviours.

Contributing to output 1312, this research will have multiple impacts for the Nigeria WAY project including enabling MEDA to plan and implement its EFGCM and WEE interventions appropriately with the key goal of gender transformation.

Further, this study will help MEDA to understand how social norms are interacting with other contextual factors. It understands how these externalities (structural factors) reinforce or impede each other which can reveal findings that can help MEDA to craft a pathway through which norms change can take place.

This study will represent an important capacity building opportunity for MEDA organizationally to inform other programming particularly in West Africa, and for local staff and partners.

Gender and Social Norm Study Objectives

The objective of the Gender and Social Norms Study is to explore the social and gender norms that influence the behaviours of interest for a specific population of interest.

The behaviours of interest for this study are the gender and social norms including :

household decision making of economically active women including about their daughters’ future,

  • the practice of early and forced girl child marriage;
  • marketplace practices of businesswomen

    The population of interest who are referred to as the participants or respondents are adolescent girls from 15 18 years and women involved in business activities from 19 years and older.

    These will be segregated by sex, marital status and age.

    The specific objectives of this study are to :

  • Identify who the reference groups are for each population group / subgroup by behaviour;
  • Identify what norms exist, supporting each behaviour by population group / subgroups; triangulated with reference group insights;
  • Identify the normative influence of individual socialized gender norms on a spectrum of strongest, stronger, weaker and weakest and;
  • Use findings to inform additional formative strategy behaviour change activities.

    A reference group is defined as others’ whose behaviour and opinions matter in shaping a person’s normative beliefs. For some behaviours, the boundaries of reference groups are distinctly defined.

    2 A reference group includes everyone who matters to an individual in a certain behaviour. A reference group comprises the people who maintain or enforce social norms by approving or disapproving certain behaviours.


    A mixed method approach designed to understand the nuances and specific contexts in which social norms operate and to identify drivers of change, and one that tests the associations between social norms and certain behaviours as well as assessing the strength of their influence will be important to develop.

    Adopting a participatory methodology drawing on the knowledge and building the competency of staff, partners, and members of the Gender Advisory Committee using innovative tools such as Vignettes, the Five Whys and My Social Network will be preferred.


  • Generate data that will expand and deepen the Nigeria-WAY gender equality and youth inclusion strategy and respond to the main drivers of EFGCM;
  • Provide analysis to add to learning and understanding of the dynamics of the social and gender norms that present obstacles to gender transformation particularly in the marketplace;
  • Gain an understanding of how women internalise negative gender norms and perpetuate them in their behaviour;
  • Identify key behaviours and the reference groups to ensure the project can use the most effective entry points for behaviour change through project activities to support longer-term shifts in gender equality.

    A report with which includes review of the literature, objectives and methodology, analysis of data and findings, reflections and conclusions and recommendations for programming not exceeding 40 pages.

    The data will be the property of MEDA.


    Consultancy to begin in February 2020.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Thank you for your submission.

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