Learning Collaborative Measurement Project Summaries
Project summary
13 January 2021

Addis Birhan

Author: Rebecca Justus
Published by: Social Norms Learning Collaborative

Organizations involved

Population Council


The goal of the Addis Birhan project (2008-2013) was to support the goals of the Meseret Hiwott (“Base of Life”) project in periurban and rural areas in northern Ethiopia, with a focus on addressing detrimental gender norms, reducing domestic abuse, and improving spousal communication. Meseret Hiwott used community-based mentoring to reduce married girls’ social isolation and build their knowledge and skills regarding HIV and reproductive health. While Meseret Hiwott worked with wives (10–24 years), Addis Birhan targeted husbands of any age.

Social norms of interest

Gender norms regarding schools, marital norms, stigma related to HIV, family planning

Behaviors of interest

Use of family planning, husbands helping wives with domestic work

Project components

Men in Addis Birhan are offered a 30-hour curriculum that was adapted. It includes topics to help men become more supportive of their wives and family. The program promotes non-judgmental discussion, self-exploration, and self-expression. Interactive group sessions include role-playing and storytelling to spark discussion on topics, such as assistance with domestic duties and childcare; couples attending health clinics together; and prevention of domestic violence. Trained male mentors organized meetings with groups of married men on a weekly basis for a period of three months. The sessions lasted no longer than an hour, and were held in casual settings that promoted conversation, self-exploration, and the expression of feelings in a nonjudgmental environment. The curriculum included modules on gender, relationships, caring for children and families, drugs and alcohol, HIV and AIDS, reproductive health, and violence.

Social norms measurement

Repeated cross-sectional surveys

Key findings to date

More than 130,000 married boys and men have participated in Addis Birhan. Members ranged in age from 10 to 85 years, with the majority aged 25–39 years.

Population Council researchers evaluated Addis Birhan together with Meseret Hiwott using data gathered from married girls to examine changes associated with the programs for married girls and their husbands. The evaluation focused on outcomes related to husbands’ support and assistance with domestic duties, positive health behaviors including use of family planning and voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT), and domestic and sexual violence.

After controlling for age, schooling, and age at marriage, married girls from couples in which both the husband and wife participated in the groups were over 18 times more likely to report having undergone VCT, and over 8 times more likely to report that their husbands provided them with domestic support than wives in couples in which the husband did not participate.


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