A SOCIAL AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE PROGRAMME TO REDUCE IPV AMONG COUPLES IN NEPAL
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Change Starts at Home is a social and behaviour change programme to reduce intimate partner violence (IPV) among married couples in Nepal. The programme provides married couples with the knowledge, skills, and safe space to address power imbalances in their interpersonal relationships. The impact is reinforced by activities that bring together the couples, their family members, and community leaders to change social attitudes and practices towards girls and women in Nepal.
Through facilitated radio listening sessions and guided reflection-based conversations, the programme introduces couples to strategies to resolve conflict peacefully, communicate openly and pioneer change within their communities.
The programme developed the B.I.G comprehensive curriculum with critical reflections on Beliefs, equipping couples with life skills to inspire Intention to change and support the ability of couples to Go with new norms and behaviours. As the programme evolved, it undertook activities to support the diffusion of the new norms and behaviours beyond the smaller couples’ group and into the family and wider community, including a campaign through which households publicly committed to being violence-free by displaying a special flag.
The programme has five components:
- Interactive edutainment radio programme, with a mini-drama series called ‘Samajdhari’ (Mutual Understanding) that ran for 39 weeks, a key component of the weekly sessions with couples.
- Single-sex and combined (husband and wife) sessions for the groups that met for 40 weeks guided by the B.I.G curriculum, incorporating the radio drama, and led by trained facilitators.
- Quarterly sessions with the family members of the couples engaged.
- Community outreach activities; town-hall meetings, community theatre, film screenings and awareness-raising events led by the group members, based on an additional curriculum for diffusion.
- Parallel activities (workshop, interactions) with the community & religious leaders and other key influencers of the same community.
A randomised controlled trial showed that Change Starts at Home increased women’s and men’s acceptability and practice of more gender-equitable relationships in their marriages, with reduced acceptability and perpetration of IPV and reduced alcohol use. A qualitative study showed that the programme altered norms, especially among socially close relationships.
Further quantitative analysis confirmed reduced intimate partner violence (IPV) in the intervention communities with greater diffusion. This was accompanied by improved norms promoting gender equity, decreased acceptance of violence, and a higher likelihood of assisting a survivor in the past 12 months.
Change Starts at Home was implemented in Nepal by Equal Access International and funded by the former Department for International Development (now FCDO) under the ‘What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’ research and innovation programme. Equal Access works with Interdisciplinary Analysts (IDA) and Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC) at the local level.
- Media use is an engaging and effective tool for showing new ways of relating between couples.
- Engaging both partners in a couple in IPV prevention programmes is effective.
- Adopting an agile framework in IPV prevention programmes allows for participants’ feedback and inputs throughout the programme.
- Organised diffusion activities require longer time frames, in this case, a 40-week interactive and edutainment programme, for sustained change in norms and behaviour at the community level.
- There is a ripple effect at the community level when a change in social norms occurs at the individual and interpersonal levels.
- The study is ongoing as the project team tests the diffusion of normative, attitudinal and behavioural changes in the social networks of persons involved and not involved in the program.
“THE PROGRAM HAD A VERY INFLUENTIAL IMPACT ON OUR LIFE. EARLIER, HE DID NOT TALK TO ME ABOUT ANY OF HIS PLANS… NOW WE TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT MOST OF THE THINGS WE DO. EVEN OUR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP ONLY HAPPENS AFTER MUTUAL CONSENT”
BIKANI, CHANGE START AT HOME PARTICIPANT