Gender and Behavior Change

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Gender and the Strategic Design of SBCC Programs

SBCC facilitates behavior change and supports broader social change to improve health outcomes. SBCC often applies a comprehensive socio-ecological lens that incorporates change at the individual, household, community and structural levels. SBCC looks at what may be preventing or facilitating a change of behaviors such as gender norms, attitudes and practices. 

A strategic analysis and design process, such as the P-Process, should look at how gender influences decisions to make sure key barriers and facilitators are being addressed. The P-Process provides a systematic process to design, implement, monitor and evaluate behavior change programs. To integrate gender into strategy development it is necessary to apply a gender lens throughout the entire P-Process.

P Process OL_Gender I Kit
1The Inquiry helps you to understand the extent of the problem and develop a succinct problem statement. You will identify your audiences, uncover their barriers and identify the facilitating factors to behavior change. Applying a gender lens at this stage means ensuring both women and men are included in the research and specific questions are posed to explore the gender-related determinants of health and behavior.

2During Strategy Design you will create the plan that will get from where you are to where you want to be. The strategy includes your communication objectives and audience segmentation, and it outlines the program approaches, channel recommendations, a workplan, and a monitoring and evaluation plan. During this stage, activities and approaches can be designed to address gender-related norms, attitudes and practices that are influencing the desired behavior change.

3The third step is Create and Test. This is when you develop the program’s communication products like mass media, print materials, participatory processes, trainings and more. You will also test your ideas and designs with the audience to ensure messages are clear, accurate and actionable. It is important to consider the differences between women and men as they may have different reactions to materials and messages.

4During the Mobilize and Monitor phase you will implement your program and monitor its progress. You and your partners will distribute your products and conduct the activities as described by the strategy. Partners will monitor activities to make sure distribution and roll-out move as planned and potential problems are identified and addressed quickly. During this stage, it is important to ensure that any gender-based design considerations are being followed and harmful gender stereotypes – or unequal power dynamics – are not being reinforced through implementation approaches.

5The Evaluate and Evolve phase is where you will determine how well your program achieved its objectives, identify any unintended consequences, know why your program was or was not effective, and whether or not the program had its intended effects on the knowledge, attitudes or behaviors of the audience, including any affect on gender-related objectives. In some cases, it may be important to measure any unintended consequences related to gender norms – such as increased violence against women.

Three cross-cutting concepts guide the P-Process and are important to developing an effective SBCC program. These three cross-cutting concepts are SBCC theory, stakeholder participation and continuous capacity strengthening.

SBCC Theory

Each theory is different and will work best when it explicitly hypothesizes what influences the behavior the program will promote. Gender theories and frameworks can be used in conjunction with behavior change theories.

Stakeholder Participation

Everyone who has a stake in the program’s outcome should participate in the planning process and the implementation; this spreads project ownership and is the first step towards sustainability. Careful consideration should be given to the involvement of men and women, including finding ways to overcome gender-based challenges to participation, such as women’s ability to move around the community freely.

Capacity Strengthening

Continuous skills building, such as on-the-job coaching, mentoring and training workshops, ensures program implementers get to practice what they learn and address problems as they come up. Gender training can be included in this capacity strengthening.

How can SBCC Influence Gender Transformation?

It is often assumed that SBCC programs on health topics such as family planning empower women, and therefore influence gender transformation, by modeling positive gender-related behaviors such as couple communication and joint-decision making. However, results from a recent analysis found that “family planning-focused interventions are not ‘naturally’ gender-transformative.” SBCC interventions therefore must explicitly focus on gender transformation in their strategic approach (HC3, 2015). This I-Kit provides step-by-step guidance to facilitate this integration of gender transformation into an existing SBCC strategy.

Other Approaches to Behavior Change
Other approaches that can influence gender transformation include social marketing, advocacy, organizational development and structural interventions. New fields like behavioral economics and human-centered design are also being used to enhance the effect of SBCC, social marketing and other types of development programs. 


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