Read about upcoming events of interest, plus summaries of previous convening and workshops.
ALIGN webinar: cross-country perspectives on gender norms
10 July 2018 15:30 - 16:30 BST | 10.30 - 11.30 EDT
Gender norms are the often implicit, informal rules by which people live that can lead to harmful attitudes, behaviours and actions such as violence and discrimination against women and girls. These are complex but critical concepts that need to be understood for better development policy and programming. While quality evidence on how to shift gender norms is growing, improved monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of evidence is vital for sustainable change.
ALIGN's launch webinar introduces our platform and discusses some of the key debates and concepts shaping cutting-edge development work on addressing harmful gender norms. Drawing from ODI’s research on gender norms alongside the experiences of projects in Uganda and India, the panel discusses:
- What are the key concepts and evidence for understanding gender norm change?
- How can programmes better respond to emerging evidence and context-specific dimensions of gender norms?
- What challenges, opportunities and learnings can be drawn from projects in Uganda and India to inform policy and practice?
- Dr. Suzanne Petroni - Principal & Owner, Gender Equality Solutions
- Dr. Caroline Harper - Head of Programme and Principal Research Fellow, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, ODI
- Dr. Ravi Verma - Regional Director, Asia Regional Office, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
- Lori Michau - Co-Director, Raising Voices
Watch a recording of the webinar below.
Questions and answers
It is so important to measure other dimensions of gender equality & relationship dynamics beyond traditional measures like 'decision-making'. Has SASA made the evaluation instruments and questions available to the public? Has SASA done any validity testing, cognitive interviewing, etc. around these questions and measures?
All the SASA! tools are online at http://datacompass.lshtm.ac.uk/19/. After the baseline survey we entered into a process of validity testing which included cognitive interviewing around the questions – these led to substantial revision of many of the questions in the household survey and qualitative tools.
What is the experience of SASA around scalability? Could you discuss whether men’s behavior and attitudes have changed or were you accelerating a shift in gender norms? How did you measure change in gender norms?
SASA! is being scaled by a variety of organizations in diverse settings. Please see the Community for Understanding Scale Up (CUSP) for more on scaling social norm change approaches, and also Revising the Script, which focuses on what scale means and how it is being done in different settings with social norm change approaches.
As SASA! is a community-based approach aiming to change the broader social norms, we noted some shifts in acceptability for women and men to move out of traditional gender norms. But as mentioned in the presentation, we felt that using gender norm change at the household level as an entry point and focus for better couple communication and relationship building was ineffective.
How long did it take, and much did it cost to implement SASA in the SASA communities in Uganda?
SASA! was implemented over three years, but because of political unrest, we had 2.8 years of actual programming. A costing study was done with a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) is a way to compare the changes in health outcomes and costs associated with alternative interventions. The total cost of developing the SASA! Activist Kit over a 3-year period (2005-2008) was $138,598.
Costs associated with the implementation of SASA! in Kampala, Uganda (2008-2012) included items such as staff time, training activists and staff, transport to communities, SASA! activities, office rent, and supplies. Total cost of implementing SASA! over a 4-year period (2008-2012) was $553,252 which 'translates' to $5 per community member per year in the SASA! target population.
351 community activists worked to deliver 11,877 activities over the course of the 4-year intervention. The estimated costs to support these activists was $394 annually, with an average cost of $47 for each activity. See the costing paper here.
How can adolescent SRHR programmes be designed to address the generation gap in negotiating gender norms among members of the support system in order to ensure sustained impact of interventions?
Working across and with different generations and with both men and women, boys and girls, is key, given that often the older generations are the enforcers of discriminatory gender norms, including in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Older men and women, for instance, are often the ones who instruct girls and boys around sexual health-related behaviours (including through initiation ceremonies and rituals) and can also be who granddaughters/sons turn to, given that communications is often easier than between these generations than proximate ones. Hence, programmes that engage older women and men individually, as well as having programmes promote dialogues across the generations are important. Additionally, programmes may consider raising awareness for all generations about the effects of discriminatory and/or harmful gender norms on sexual health. Service providers should also be included in such programming.
There are some useful resources from programmes working across generations, such as the Grandmother Project and those run by HelpAge International which can provide additional learning about how successes and challenges faced in addressing SRHR and gender norms.
What is a good quality, robust indicator to track change in gender norms?
There is not one single indicator, as gender norms play out differently in different spaces. Norms related to sexuality and to women’s and girls’ economic empowerment, among others, seem to be the most sticky and resistant to change. Analysis of differential employment and pay statistics and trends over time can give an indication of norm change in the economic sphere, as can attitude data, such as that collected through surveys such as the World Values Survey, the regional barometer surveys and the ILO-Gallup study of attitudes to women working.
In more specific sectors and contexts, triangulation of different data can give strong indications of norm change. For example, for gender-based violence, one can look at attitudinal, prevalence and legal data on the same issue – such as national laws on violence against women, prevalence of violence against women, and the percentage of women and men who justify domestic violence under certain conditions. See the infographic below and these resources for more examples.
The following guides also suggest possible indicators and data sources for some areas where gender norms play an important role in influencing women’s and girls’ outcomes: https://www.odi.org/publications/9830-changing-gender-norms-monitoring-and-evaluating-programmes-and-projects and https://www.odi.org/publications/9808-what-can-internationally-comparable-quantitative-data-tell-us-about-how-gender-norms-are-changing.
What do you see as some of the key data challenges in the gender norm space and how will the CoP engage them? Specifically, will ALIGN lead in the gender data space, and is this part of the online platform?
Norms are seen as complex and personal and as they are centered around attitudes and behaviours they are indeed difficult to capture. For example, a person can express an attitude in public but go home and carry out a behavior which does not reflect that attitude, such as saying they are against hitting women, but then beating their wife. Other areas such as the care economy have been very difficult to record because of the very various tasks and personal nature of undertaking domestic work. However, there are now data sets which have captured the time spent on the care economy and this is expanding.
ALIGN is partnering with some organisations working on gender norms, such as Data2X, and will help our community identify good sources of data moving forward. There has been a lot of recent innovation on tools for measuring norm change. ALIGN does not have the capacity to develop new data or host massive amounts of data, but we have a tools and measurement section on our online platform which we will build over time, as well as guidance for platform users on where to find data on norms. Further, we have a curated set of tools for measuring gender norms related to child marriage which can be used more broadly.
Is there any good practice on how to address gender norms which are non-binary? How can we address the gender norms of the LGBTIQ+ community in development?
ALIGN is working with members of this community to help platform users understand LGBTQI+ issues in development and to collate materials that relate to gender norms and sexual orientation and gender identity. This is a nascent issue for the development sector, although of course a very longstanding rights issue. ALIGN will soon be hosting some introductory materials on these issues that help users understand how gender norms are framed in binary and heteronormative terms, and ways of taking a more inclusive approach. Watch this space.
What do you think about gender norms in North Africa? In Tunisia, international communities think that women's rights are quite advanced but it's not translated into practice.
The question on Tunisia is an excellent one – there is much potential for work to be done on norm change in countries with both Islamic and secular legal systems, particularly in the areas of norms related to marriage and personal status. As noted, much progress has been perceived particularly in the legal and policy realm in Tunisia, which holds some of the most gender egalitarian views in the MENA region, and yet there remains a disconnect between progressive policies in the region and women’s lived experiences. Recent reform efforts to reflect more equal norms, for example around women’s equal rights to inheritance in Tunisia and Morocco, may reflect social and gender norm change, some of which have been joined by religious leaders. The drivers of this change and the potential it holds to cement more egalitarian legal, religious, institutional and social changes here and across the region require deeper understanding.
ALIGN is hoping to profile resources on its online platform that can help community members garner more specific knowledge related to particular country contexts. We welcome recommendations for resources and programmes on gender norm change in North Africa that we can highlight to the broader community.
I would appreciate very much if a discussion your society being sexually segregate society program is implemented in Saudi the country I am from and maybe we can both view different degrees of segregation.
Societies with laws and policies that not only discriminate based on gender, but also segregate people based on gender in physical spaces, provide important lenses from which to consider how to support community dialogue and education programmes that encourage people to critically reflect on gender norms in their communities. There is evidence of gender norm change even in challenging contexts, for example, in the ongoing movement against gender-based violence in India, supported by men and women alike, alongside political and traditional leaders.
In Saudi Arabia, recent legal gains reflected in the 2015 right for women to vote for and stand in municipal elections, the first issue of driving licenses to women in 2018, and new policies relieving restrictions on women in sport suggest that norm change is slowly being reflected in government policies. They also indicate, however, that small legal strides are not enough to ensure more equitable social relations. Important work is being done in this area to identify the impact of harmful norms. Support for gender norm change requires open civic spaces to encourage men and women in joint reflection and discussion, as well as opportunities to engage with religious leaders, political leaders, and other prominent ‘gatekeepers.’ There should also be ongoing sensitivity to the risk of backlash or resistance, which can be particularly salient where discriminatory gender norms are upheld and promoted by power in institutions such as political movements, schools or religions.
If gender norms keep in place a hierarchical distribution of power and privilege that is essentially political - what are the most effective political levers to shift those norms? Technical levers that Caroline talked about - new knowledge, reframing the issue, etc. seem too technical and don't seem to address the underlying political incentives to maintain the status quo.
Excellent question. Yes, there are technical approaches which can be effective in smaller spaces, but need to be complemented by large shifts in the wider environment, especially to ensure sustainability. Social movements have clearly had a huge impact over centuries in some contexts, but may not be suitable to all contexts, or may operate under different visible forms. In other words, movements may not be visible crowds on the streets, but smaller actions by many people over time (nowadays also including actions in digital spaces such as social media) can help to create change. Legal systems are also very important. ALIGN will look into literature to support the community in this area. Thank you for raising the concern.
Gender norms and child marriage - Girls Not Brides Global Meeting
ALIGN attended the largest ever meeting of advocates committed to ending child marriage in June 2018. The Girls Not Brides' 2nd Global Meeting in Malaysia provided an opportunity to engage with organisations working to end child marriage with a focus on gender norm change.
ALIGN team member Rachel Marcus presented in two panels on social norms, girls' clubs, gender and norm change. The ALIGN team also enjoyed connecting with a range of stakeholders working to address harmful gender norms to prevent child marriage, with the aim to profile many of these initiatives on the platform soon.
ALIGN at the EDD
Together with the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme, ALIGN attended the European Development Days from June 5–6 in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s
theme was ‘Women and Girls at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest’. We were pleased to share knowledge and research on investing in capabilities and norm change to transform adolescent girls’ lives with delegates at our stand in the Global Village. View our Twitter moment for coverage from the event.
Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit, Bali
ALIGN attended the 2018 International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit hosted by Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, The Communication Initiative, Soul City Institute, UNICEF and BBC Media Action in Bali, Indonesia from April 16-20 2018. You can read about the highlights of the event from ALIGN researcher Rachel Marcus on our blog.
CSW62, New York
On March 8 at the United Nations Headquarters, ODI and ALIGN co-hosted the panel discussion ‘Changing gender norms to empower rural women and girls.’ This UN hosted event explored the latest knowledge and debate on the impact of harmful gender norms and the policies and practices that can best support positive change. The speakers, Dr. Anju Malhotra, Principal Advisor, Gender & Development at UNICEF, H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations and Chair-designate of the CSW, Dr. Caroline Harper, Principal Research Fellow and Head of Programme, Social Development, at ODI, Dr. Purna Sen, Director of Policy at UN Women, Chernor Bah, Co-Founder & Exective Director of Purposeful Productions, Professor Nancy Glass, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and Sizani Ngubane, South African activist and founder of the Rural Women’s Movement, and 2018 NGO CSW/NY Woman of Distinction, all spoke during the event from their perspective on knowledge around gender norms and the key learnings and evidence relevant for policy to empower women and girls, particularly those in rural contexts. The event highlighted the importance of understanding gender norms to better inform policy and practice, drawing on some of the latest knowledge and evidence on gender norm change from a range of countries and perspectives.
Visit the ODI website to view a video recording of the event.
On March 16 at the UN CSW NGO Forum, ODI and ALIGN co-hosted a dynamic event ‘Shifting norms for gender justice: evidence on what works.’ The event was chaired by Patti Petesch, Consultant & Expert Advisor for GENNOVATE, and consisted of ‘project spotlights’ offered by speakers: Lori Michau, Raising Voices, Hadeezah Haruna-Usie, Girl Effect, Workneh Yadete, Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE), Christina Kwangwari, ActionAid International, Aukje te Kaat, Aflatoun, and Zoe Carletide, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The project spotlights profiled examples of what works to change harmful gender norms – and what doesn’t - from each project’s perspective, and each spotlight drew lessons on how to improve policy and practice to support positive norm change. Common themes included a clear focus across projects on the importance of supporting education as a route to challenge harmful norms and to improve policy and access to harness the power of technology to connect young women and promote positive understandings of gender.
Listen to the Live events podcast on Soundcloud.
OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) focal points meeting
Members of the ALIGN team participated in the first annual SIGI Focal Points Meeting at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France in January 2018. This meeting brought together an informal network of government officials, multilateral organisations, research institutes and civil society organisations to provide recommendations on the ongoing development and application of the SIGI Index, supporting data validation processes and sharing policy experiences. The SIGI Index measures discriminatory social institutions, defined as the formal and informal laws, attitudes and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice and empowerment opportunities. The recent meeting in Paris raised issues of understanding and measuring gender norms and norm change as high on the agenda for the OECD's upcoming data collection and analysis.
International Association of Adolescent Health Congress, New Delhi
ALIGN held a symposium, ‘The intersectionality of adolescent psychosocial well-being: why gender norms matter,’ as part of the 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health, held from October 27 to 29th in New Delhi, India.
The 50 symposium participants – academics, practitioners and representatives from donor agencies – heard presentations from Professor George Patton (University of Melbourne), Gracy Andrews (CorStone India Foundation) and Jordan Tewhaiti-Smith (Lancet Youth Network). Overseas Development Institute Senior Research Fellow Fiona Samuels also discussed her work on gender norms and psychosocial well-being.
See a selection of images from the event below.
Project ALIGN’s initial convening – NYC
An initial platform awareness and engagement session was held by the ALIGN project on Sunday 12 March 2017 in New York, US. This convening comprised small group discussions and presentations from participants, who included researchers, thought leaders, advocacy and policy practitioners, donors and others working in the adolescent girls space. The aim of this convening was to explore the current climate for gendered social norms work to help frame the ALIGN project’s scope. The meeting discussed how the ALIGN project can build and curate innovative learning in this area, and also highlighted various important challenges to understanding, measuring and changing norms both globally and at a country level.
The convening highlighted several key questions for shaping the project’s focus and vision, including:
- What is the core to obstructing change for adolescent girls and young women, to which our knowledge on norms can make a positive difference?
- How can we build wider networks of learning and momentum for change using our skills in knowledge generation and evidence-sharing?
- How do we curate and communicate knowledge on norms, given their complex nature?
Project ALIGN looks forward to developing the community and digital platform in response to these initial discussions, and bringing together further conversations in our next convening.
Do you have an upcoming event you would like us to promote? Please contact us.