“Before I believed it was only the husband who has the power to work.”
Over the nine-month HIF diffusion grant period, our team made significant progress towards our long-term vision for scaling our innovation. This included creating field-friendly tools that will be used to facilitate programme implementation by stakeholders, and engaging humanitarian and research communities to understand the innovation and share findings from our research.
The innovation, called Unite for a Better Life (UBL), is an intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention program delivered to groups of men, women or couples within the context of a cultural practice or ceremony by trained facilitators.
It was adapted for the Somali refugee context and pilot-tested through a HIF innovation grant (2016-2018). Targeting social norms and underlying risk factors for IPV, the programme uses traditional Somali tea (“tea talks”) as a platform to foster dialogue on sensitive topics such as sexual consent and pleasure, negotiating men’s and women’s roles outside of the home, and to build skills to support healthy relationships. In other words, the programme facilitates crucial conversations to support bold changes within individuals, families, and communities.
Intimate partner violence remains the most common form of gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts, yet there is little evidence on effective solutions. Our innovation, therefore, has the potential to make far-reaching impacts.
After demonstrating proof of concept in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, we developed our diffusion strategy with the goal to advance UBL to the next stage in its journey to scale. We worked with an Ethiopia-based creative firm to create a logo, tagline and branding strategy for the UBL innovation, and to professionally design and package the intervention curricula. We also created a UBL Implementation Toolkit to help stakeholders implement the programme, and a practice brief to summarise key findings and lessons around the innovation. Additionally, we conducted numerous dissemination events in Dollo Ado, Addis Ababa and at international conferences.
We were also able to step outside the box with our approach to training and public engagement and bring in some unique and creative elements to our outputs. We collaborated on a visual media toolkit that comprises quotes from qualitative data collected during the innovation development phase, a series of images which each correspond with a quote and discussion questions. These materials can be used as part of future trainings with implementation staff and can also be used to provoke dialogue and create awareness among the general public about IPV and our innovation.
One of the most exciting parts of the diffusion journey was meeting with past beneficiaries of the innovation in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, (approximately one year after they had completed the UBL programme) to capture stories of change. The stories provided further insight into the user journey, examples of sustained attitude and behaviour changes, and demonstrated that behaviour change is diffusing beyond the initial user to spouses and other family members. Other beneficiaries spoke of how transformational the project has been.
One man stated:
“Before I believed it was only the husband who has the power to work.” He says some people may talk about their relationship and mock him for doing what is considered women’s work, but he doesn’t care. He’s proud of his family.
“My husband now helps with so many tasks around the house, including cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children.” - Woman, Dollo Ado Refugee Camp, Ethiopia
As we look ahead to the next steps for the UBL innovation, we hope to more rigorously test the innovation, as well as better understand the potential effects of the innovation beyond the direct end user. We will continue to disseminate the findings and share the lessons both within and outside the humanitarian sector with the hopes of creating lasting change.
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