In this section, the term “community” is used in the sense of a grouping of interacting households that live in the same geographical location, for example a village or an urban neighborhood. Campaigning at the community level can be an effective way to influence individuals and their institutions because it can help frame the problem as a community-wide one that is the community’s responsibility, rather than individual women’s problems. It directly engages members of the community, impacts their day-to-day lives (and interpersonal interactions) within the community, and personalizes the issue by encouraging people to become ‘agents of change’, or part of the solution. Furthermore, involving a large cross-section of the community in the campaign can make it attractive and safe for individuals to give up “old” behaviour patterns and adopt new ideas.
In campaigning to end VAW, community-level activities can convey messages to people who are not easily reached by the mass media, e.g. those living without electricity in rural areas, or migrants who have language difficulties. More recently, education-entertainment campaigners such as Soul City in South Africa or Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua combine their popular TV series with community mobilization. Soul City has stimulated the creation of local youth clubs – e.g. Soul Buddyz, while Puntos de Encuentro has generated dialogue in communities, facilitated by local activists. Other campaigns, such as Raising Voices in Uganda and We Can in South Asia, focus most of their effort on mobilizing their vast target audiences where they live and work – at the community level.
Case Study: Raising Voices in Uganda uses a community-based approach that involves first gathering baseline information to assess local beliefs about domestic violence; raising awareness in community and professional sectors about domestic violence and its negative consequences for the family and community; building networks of support and action among community and professional sectors, and integrating action against domestic violence into everyday life and systematically within institutions. A 2003 qualitative assessment found that the program contributed to substantial individual, relationship, and community changes, including decreased levels of physical, emotional, sexual, and economic violence against women in the home. Men were said to have changed their behaviour in response to reduced tolerance of violence by local councils, police, and the community at large.
Comprehensive information on the Sasa! methodology developed by Raising Voices to address linkages between VAW and HIV/AIDS is available on their website and in Programming Essentials: Monitoring and Evaluation: Community Mobilization. The Raising Voices tools have been formally evaluated - see Ruff, S., 2005. Evaluation Report: Raising Voices Program Tools, Raising Voices.
Source: Michau, L. & Naker D., 2004. Rethinking Domestic Violence- A Training Process for Community, Raising Voices, Uganda, as quoted in Betron, M. & Dogget, E., 2006. Linking Gender-Based Violence Research to Practice in East, Central and Southern Africa: A Review of Risk Factors and Promising Interventions, USAID.
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