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Transformative Social Change

Last edited: December 13, 2013

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  • A particular body of VAWG interventions can be loosely organized in terms of their shared goal:  challenging broad-based beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and social norms that condone or contribute to violence against women and girls, and replacing them with beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and norms that empower women, support gender equality, and reduce the risk of violence. This ‘group’ of interventions is described here as transformative social change, in order to emphasize a focus on shifting how individuals and societies think, feel and act with regard to violence against women and girls and gender equality.   
  • Social change includes many different initiatives, including communication campaigns, community mobilization, and challenging social norms through other mediums (e.g. peer groups, media, etc.).  While these interventions differ in their approach and each has its own unique rational, there is a great deal of overlap and they continue to evolve as they are informed by each other in the field.  For programming purposes it is important to understand the details and complexities of each approach before designing and implementing interventions. 
  • The disruption of traditional social structures and cultural practices brought about by an unstable situation or conflict can provide an important entry point for this work.  Some of the strategies include:
    • undertaking communications and mass media
    • conducting workshops, trainings and support groups
    • hosting public forums and participatory media
    • engaging community volunteers and role models
    • conducting community dialogues
    • designing and implementing school-based programmes
  • It is important to note that published evaluations of transformative social change projects in conflict-affected settings are non-existent. Thus, there is not a body of research to define best practices.  Moreover, because most prevention work has been limited and fragmented, there is no common language to define the different elements of transformative social change interventions that are underway in conflict and post-conflict settings, nor is there an overarching framework to assist practitioners to determine priority areas of interventions that are based on understanding of the best approaches for creating transformative social change within and across humanitarian contexts.

Additional resources:

See the Campaigns Module.

See the Men and Boys Module.