Using Social Norms Perspectives in Sexual Violence Prevention with Conflict Affected Communities: The Communities Care Program

Stream: Sexual Violence Interventions
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 3.15 pm – 5.00 pm


Addressing sexual violence in conflict situations is not only an important life-saving measure, it is integral to breaking the conflict cycle and creating peaceful, just communities. While progress has been made in recent years in responding to SV in humanitarian contexts, little is known about effective prevention. Most efforts have focused on addressing environmental risks and building community awareness, while fewer interventions have targeted underlying drivers of SV, which include social norms. Evidence and experience from a range of violence prevention and behaviour change interventions show that using social norms perspectives can change collective behaviours. Drawing on this evidence and experience, UNICEF has developed the Communities Care: Transforming Lives and Preventing Violence (CC) program, an innovative, community-based social norms intervention for SV prevention in emergency contexts. The program, being piloted in Somalia and South Sudan, uses group discussion and dialogue to stimulate reflection on human rights principles and ideals and shared community values, and to foster debate and deliberation about harmful beliefs and norms that contribute to SV and possible alternatives. This paper presents the CC program rationale, the theory of change that underpins it, and key intervention and research tools. It finally highlights important progress and lessons to date.


Sophie Read-Hamilton (Presenter), Consultant
Sophie Read-Hamilton has 20 years’ experience in policy and practice relating to women and children, with specific expertise in GBV prevention and response in humanitarian contexts. She has worked for government, NGOs and UN agencies in direct service delivery with women and children affected by violence, GBV program design and management, capacity building for working with survivors, and strategy and policy development around the world. Sophie holds a Master of Social Work. She is currently working as a consultant to UNICEF on GBV in emergencies and is committed to promoting to evidence-based approaches to preventing violence against women.

Mendy Marsh (Presenter), UNICEF
Mendy Marsh is UNICEF’s GBV in Emergencies Specialist. She is responsible for providing UNICEF headquarters, regional and country offices with technical support on GBV and for ensuring that coordination mechanisms are in place. She is UNICEF’s focal point for the GBV Area of Responsibility under the Protection Cluster. Mendy has expertise in working with child survivors, engaging men and boys in GBV prevention, and economic strengthening and other risk reduction strategies for women and girls. Mendy has Masters degrees in Public Health and Social Work. She has worked on GBV in conflict and disaster affected countries throughout the world.