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World Bank

Training and Mentoring Community Facilitators to Lead Critical Reflection Groups

In order to foster shifts in attitudes, norms and behaviors around gender and violence, many activists and practitioners working to prevent violence against women (VAW) facilitate critical reflection groups. These target particular groups of community members including men, women, couples, adolescents, religious leaders, service providers and teachers. They include more structured curriculum-based group training programs as well as more informal (but still systematic) conversations and activities with groups of community members. 

The most effective interventions tend to combine opportunities for the members of the groups to: (i)develop critical consciousness and reflect on their own beliefs and attitudes through exploring their personal experiences of gender, violence and power, as well as listening to and developing empathy for the experiences of others; (ii)build new skills and practice behaviours to improve communication, enhance negotiation, and de-escalate conflict; (iii)develop a sense of cohesiveness, solidarity and belief in their power as a group to effect change.  Group-based interventions require very skilled facilitation – something that many organisations have recognised over time through experience.

This Practice Brief therefore focuses on the practicalities of recruiting, training and supporting community members to lead and facilitate critical reflection groups on gender, power and violence as part of Violence Against Women (VAW) prevention programming. It looks at why critical reflection groups are important to VAW prevention, reviews the pertinent issues for practitioners, and gives examples and practical tips for those planning to train facilitators. It draws on available literature as well as the real-life experiences of activists and practitioners implementing these types of group reflection processes. 

Date published
  • 2018
  • Bartel Doris
Published by The Prevention Collaborative
Key quote "The success of critical reflection groups relies heavily on the skills of the facilitator and the techniques used to promote shifts in perspective and insights into systems of gender, power and violence."