Social norms marketing aimed at gender based violence: a literature review

Social norms marketing aimed at gender based violence: a literature review

This review focuses on programmes that use social norms marketing as a way of reducing gender based violence, particularly in conflict affected areas. It looks at the ways such programmes have been designed, implemented and evaluated, and makes recommendations for future programmes with similar goals and methods. The concept behind social norms marketing is a distinction between perceived community norms and personal beliefs and attitudes. People may have positive personal attitudes towards women (e.g. victims of rape should be helped), but community norms (e.g. rape is a private matter) might prevent them from acting on these personal attitudes. Social norms marketing seeks to change these negative community norms, so that positive personal beliefs are much easier to express.

The review includes an introduction to social norms theory and marketing, and goes on to discuss strategies for changing social norms. It considers the characteristics of the most successful social norms marketing campaigns, including those that use entertainment and those that are paired with other communication and influencing strategies. It focuses on three examples which it considers to have “the most robust social norms marketing agenda and the largest body of evidence speaking to their impact”. These examples are:

• Soul City, South Africa: An ‘edutainment’ programme targeting gender norms through television and radio drama and related literature and publicity.
• Puntos Encuentros’ Somos Diferentes, Somos Iguales (We Are Different, We Are Equal) campaign, Nicaragua: social norms marketing is used through weekly television shows, call-in radio shows and a magazine for women.
• Program H, Brazil: with a focus on tackling gender based violence by changing social norms around masculinity.

In looking at these three examples, the review is able to put forward some key components of effective social norms marketing to reduce gender based violence:

• The importance of a baseline study to identify target audiences and social norms, and set a baseline for future evaluations
• The use of specific behavioural recommendations to facilitate action on new social norms
• Attention to the potential negative effects of social norms marketing, particularly in discussion groups

The review also suggests some key questions to be asked when considering a social norms marketing campaign to reduce gender based violence. These questions fall into three broad categories: understanding community social norms, devising programming to target social norms, and monitoring, evaluation and adaptation.

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