V4C s Approach to Changing Discriminatory Social Norms

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1 V4C s Approach to Changing Discriminatory Social Norms Introduction This document outlines V4C s approach to shifting harmful social norms. It outlines why social norms need to change in order to achieve DFID s desired results for women and girls; it offers a definition of social norms; and it describes how the V4C programme will change social norms which marginalise and discriminate against women and girls. Why are social norms important? The social norms approach adopted by V4C has its origins in the DFID Strategic Vision for Girls and Women. The Vision aims to unlock the potential of women girls, to stop poverty before it starts. It empowers girls and women, enabling them to have voice, choice and control. The four pillars of the gender strategy are: 1. Completion of primary and secondary education; 2. Economic empowerment; 3. Universal sexual and reproductive health and rights; 4. Ability to live free from violence. These are viewed as game changing outcomes which are critical to empowering women and girls. To achieve this, an enabling environment is also required, defined as one in which: Discrimination against women and girls is challenged; Effective legal frameworks exist; Women and girls are valued in society; Women and girls can make informed choices and control decisions affecting their lives; Women s participation in politics is enabled; There is sustained political commitment to services and opportunities for women and girls. Discriminatory social norms are a crucial factor in the enabling environment. Such norms include views about women s roles in the family, community, and wider society, and the acceptability of violence against women. Thus, in order to create a better enabling environment for women and girls necessary to achieving DFID s wider goals social norms need to change. V4C has a strong focus on changing social norms, whilst also addressing legal norms, political representation and the allocation of resources to women and girls. 1

2 What are social norms? Social norms are different from individual attitudes, beliefs or opinions in that they depend upon an individual s expectations of other people. Following UNICEF, the following is a good definition of a social norm: A social norm is a pattern of behaviour that individuals prefer to conform to on condition that they believe that: o most people in their relevant network conform to it (empirical expectations), and that o most people in their relevant network believe they ought to conform to it (normative expectations). Changing a social norm entails changing current social expectations, creating new social expectations, or both. Social norms are difficult to change on an individual basis, because they are interdependent. Even if specific individuals change their attitudes, they may not change their behaviour because they feel constrained by the expectations of others. They may also fear sanctions applied to those who do not conform to the norm, such as loss of respect in the community or exclusion from significant events or institutions. In order to shift social norms a society-wider approach is required. This needs to target those who are affected by harmful norms adolescent women and girls in the case of V4C and also those who maintain and support these norms. These include men and boys, religious and traditional leaders, and older women. Thus, a social norms approach needs to be implemented at a community, rather than individual, level; and this leads to the question of how we define community. V4C is not a traditional community development project, working with geographically bounded groups such as villages or local government areas. Our definition of community is more fluid and extends to social group who share a common institutional context, workplace, religious identity, or political interest. V4C s Targeted Social Norms V4C has selected three social norm areas for change, based on research and analysis, consultations with experts, and internal discussions among the V4C team and DFID. The issues targeted for change by V4C are as follows: 1. Violence against women; 2. Women in leadership; 3. Women s role in decision-making. These issues were chosen on the basis of their relevance to our core target audience (women and girls aged 16-25), the likelihood of achieving results within the programme lifetime, and the importance of these issues to creating a better enabling environment. Further details about the selection of these issues can be found in the Social Norms Process Documentation paper. 2

3 V4C s Approach to Shifting Social Norms V4C s approach is based on the insight that a society-wide response is required, working at the individual, community, and social-structural levels. Through interventions at all three levels, V4C believes that social change can be prompted, sustained and accelerated more effectively than by working on one level alone. The programme includes a strong social marketing element. This uses behaviour change communications to shift attitudes in the wider society, and to inform citizens that others have changed their attitude. 1. At the individual level, V4C works with adolescent women and girls to provide them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to challenge discriminatory social norms and create change in their colleges, homes, workplaces and communities; 2. At the community level, V4C works with men and boys, religious and traditional leaders, and networks of women and girls to create a critical mass of support for gender equality, accelerating change and shifting negative norms; 3. At the social-structural level, V4C works to change discriminatory laws, create better policies, and direct assets towards women and girls, sending a message about changed social norms through political and legal structures. Practical Tactics for Shifting Social Norms V4C has developed a checklist of tactics which have been found to be effective in shifting harmful social norms to translate this strategy into practice. This is derived from the experience of other programmes which have focused on harmful social norms, such as Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage. In summary, the checklist is as follows: Community Awareness Factors 1. Individual attitudes need to change; new information can help drive this, and can also inform citizens that others have changed their attitudes; 2. Individuals need to know that others are ready to change; 3. Public debate and deliberation are required; 4. Communities need to change together; Publicising the Change 5. Positive deviants/ role models need to be publicised, in ways which normalise the desired new behaviour; 6. The benefits of the new behaviour should be demonstrated; 7. Influential people/ early adopters can spread the new norm through diffusion; Reinforcing new norms 8. Opportunities to behaviour in line with the new norm should be highlighted; 9. A new set of sanctions and rewards needs to be created. The checklist is used to guide strategies, proposals from agencies and partners, and to assess the extent to which the programme is making full use of the most successful approaches to shifting social norms. 3

4 How Change will take place Our review of approaches to behavioural change identified two main theories as to how change occurs: 1. Stages of Change; 2. (Organised) Diffusion; The Stages of Change model proposes that individuals move through stages when changing behaviour. These range from Pre-contemplation, through to Action and Maintenance. Individuals can be categorised according to their readiness to change, and interventions and messages can be designed for each stage along the pathway to change. This model has been widely used for designing health interventions, such as those addressing smoking, weight loss or drug addiction. The Stages of Change model can be seen as more appropriate to issues where individual attitudes are more important than shared social norms. It suggests that each individual proceeds along the pathway to change at his or her own pace, and is not strongly influenced by the rate at which others in society change. It suggests that change will be gradual and incremental, rather than sudden and transformational. However, it is possible to adapt this model to accommodate a social norms based approach, by including two alternative routes to change: 1. Attitude change before behaviour change, which is a more conventional individualistic model. This route to change is more likely where the desired new behaviour is not easily visible to others, and therefore people do not see others modelling the new norm. An example of such a behaviour might be domestic violence. 2. Behaviour change before attitude change, where individuals change to the new behaviour because they see others change around them, although they may not change their attitude. This route is more likely where the desired change is clearly visible and public, such as child marriage, and is therefore subjected to social regulation and peer pressure. Diffusion is based upon ideas about how new ideas spread through society and has been used to understand the up-take of new technologies. The theory suggests that individuals fall into groups based on their openness to new ideas. Some people - Innovators and Early Adopters are quick to take up new ideas, whilst others are slower - the Late Majority and Laggards. Diffusion relies upon ideas of social influence: a critical mass of Opinion Leaders spread new ideas; a tipping point is reached when change rapidly accelerates; and the new behaviour is widely adopted and becomes the new norm. The Diffusion approach is more appropriate when social norms are strong and where people s behaviour is driven by their expectation of others. This model suggests that change may occur quickly once a tipping point is reached, but reaching this point may take a long time. V4C is an innovative programme, and therefore we do not know to what extent the behaviours targeted by V4C are driven by individual attitudes or by social norms. Our hypothesis is that social norms are a strong influence, and research is planned to assess the influence of social norms and individual attitudes on the target behaviours. But as yet, we do not know whether to expect a longer period of preparation followed by a relatively quick change in behaviour, or a gradual and steady change over time. The baseline survey of 4

5 knowledge, attitudes and practices will track these changes and will provide an insight into the pace and extent of change in both attitudes and behaviour. V4C s model of social norm change uses elements of both theories and in fact, the Diffusion model also includes stages of change, where the individual becomes aware of the innovation, considers it, and decides whether or not to adopt it. Thus, in reality the two approaches are not mutually exclusive and can complement each other. The Diffusion model guides the V4C communications strategy, using Opinion Leaders, celebrities, religious and traditional leaders, brand ambassadors and social networks to spread new ideas through society. The approach is designed to maximise the exposure which any individual may have to V4C s messages, and to use popular and respected figures to promote the change. The idea of a group of young women who are change agents of the future is in line with diffusion theory, as the intention is that they spread the new ideas in their colleges, homes, work places and communities. When individuals do come into contact with the V4C messages and interventions the Stages of Change model explains their individual pathway to change. Adoption of new ideas about gender equality is not a one-off decision like buying a smart-phone. Rather, it involves receiving new information, considering the arguments for and against change, public debate and discussion, a shift in attitudes, and a decision as to change to the new norm. V4C s monitoring and evaluation strategy is based on tracking movement along a continuum of attitude and behaviour change, and communications will be designed to target different stages in the change process. The more contacts an individual has with the V4C programme and messages, the more likely he or she is to progress along the pathway to change. 5

6 Stages of change Diffusion of new norms A model of how social norms will change combining Diffusion and Stages of Change Theories 1. Pre-contemplation 2. Contemplation/ awareness-raising 3. Planning the change/ persuasion 4. Action/ making the change Old behaviour is maintained; Old attitudes are maintained; Social norms are unquestioned; There is no awareness of the possibility of change; Old behaviour is maintained; Old attitudes are maintained; The individual is aware of the new behaviour/ social norm; Social norms are become explicit and are questioned; Individual Attitude Route Old behaviour is maintained; A new attitude is developing; The individual is contemplating the benefits of changing; Social norms are questioned and are perceived as changing. Attitudes have changed; Behaviour has changed; Expectations of others are shifting; The individual experiences the benefits of changed behaviour. OR: Social norms route Old attitude is maintained; New behaviour is adopted as a result of social pressure; Outdoor media Public Events Celebrity testimonials Religious and traditional leaders Radio Spots and discussion Radio drama Nollywood movies Public discussion and debate Campaigning on political and legal reform Endorsement from religious and political leaders Examples of role models and early adopters Messages from radio drama Promotion of benefits of change Women s groups challenge discrimination Men s networks promote new norms Contact and discussion with Early Adopters On-line discussions promoting change Public examples and case studies Legal changes send message about changed norms Political leaders strategy Peer pressure is created by visible changes in social norms 6 Safe Spaces Alumni accelerate change through the stages by example and active campaigning Brand ambassadors promote and publicise new norms Evidence of benefits of new norms changes attitude and prompts behaviour change

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