Shifting social norms in the economy for women’s economic empowerment

Author: Nisha Singh, Anam Parvez Butt, Claudia Canepa
Published by: Oxfam, SEEP
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In early 2017, The SEEP Network and Oxfam’s Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) in Agriculture Knowledge Hub partnered to facilitate a Practitioner Learning Group (PLG) on “Shifting Social Norms in the Economy to Create Change at Scale.” The SEEP PLG process is a method that brings together market development practitioners to help each other overcome practical and urgent challenges. This initiative focused on gathering practitioner insights on shifting social norms in the economy to create change at scale for women’s economic empowerment.

The PLG brought together 13 representatives from six different organizations over a period of five months to share challenges and strategies to shift social norms. The discussions within the group were guided by the following learning questions:

  • What are social norms in the economy?
  • How do we diagnose social norms in specific contexts?
  • What strategies are effective at creating change at scale? 
  • How do we measure change in social norms?

This document is a summary of the process and insights from the participants. It provides an introductory overview to social norms and their relationship to women’s economic empowerment. It also highlights practical tools, approaches and frameworks that practitioners and researchers can use to diagnose, measure and change social norms. Finally, it calls for more systematic collaboration and learning, as addressing social norms change as part of WEE is still a new area of exploration.