COMBINING GENDER TRANSFORMATION WITH LIVELIHOODS STRENGTHENING TO REDUCE VIOLENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
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Stepping Stones and Creating Futures is a combined gender-transformative and livelihoods-strengthening programme. This group-based programme is designed to reduce intimate partner violence by addressing poverty and gender inequality as drivers of violence. Stepping Stones focuses on concepts such as gender, violence, and sexual and reproductive health, while Creating Futures is based on managing finances, finding employment, and building sustainable livelihoods. The programme works to reduce intimate partner violence at the individual and relationship levels by raising awareness, building skills, and shifting harmful social norms.
The programme had two components:
- Stepping Stones (South Africa, third edition) was a 10-session participatory curriculum on HIV and violence prevention, delivered to single-sex groups by trained peer facilitators.
- After Stepping Stones, participants went through an 11-session curriculum known as Creating Futures, designed to improve livelihoods.
A cluster randomised controlled trial showed that Stepping Stones and Creating Futures led to a decrease in men’s perpetration of violence (according to the men’s self-reports) in the prior year, but not in women’s reported experience of violence or controlling behaviours. The programme also led to an increase in women’s earnings but not men’s earnings.
Stepping Stones and Creating Futures was implemented by Project Empower and the South African Medical Research Council. The curriculum of Stepping Stones (South Africa, third edition) was an adaptation of the original Stepping Stones curriculum. If you want to adapt the programme, we strongly recommend that you contact one of these groups first.
- Facilitator recruitment, training, and support were key to intervention success. Facilitators went through the intervention as participants and received six weeks of training.
- Implementation was led by an organisation with strong ties to the community and extensive experience working in informal settlements on violence and HIV prevention.
- A longer time frame for implementation allows for more reflection and opportunities to apply lessons between sessions.
- Group-based participatory interventions can be adapted to rural and urban settings.
- Interventions that are cost-effective have potential to be scaled up.
“NOW I AM ABLE TO TALK TO HIM [MY PARTNER] AND TELL HIM THAT THIS IS WRONG AND THIS IS RIGHT. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THINGS LIKE THIS, THIS IS HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO THINGS. I AM ABLE TO GIVE HIM ADVICE NOW. BEFORE WHEN WE HAD A DIFFERENCE IN OPINION I WOULD GET UP AND WALK AWAY…”
FEMALE PARTICIPANT, 12 MONTHS AFTER JOINING THE PROGRAMME