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Partners for gender norm change campaigns reflect on lessons

News Stories /27 March 2023

In early February, Investing in Women (IW) hosted a series of one-day workshops in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam to distill lessons from gender norm change campaigns implemented by local partners.

These workshops were carried out as most partners prepared to wrap up their campaigns, offering an opportunity for shared learning and discussions on sustainability.

Because all IW-supported campaigns have been designed to leverage social media, the effectiveness of using social media for gender norm change was a prominent theme throughout the workshops. Drawing on their experience, partners offered best practices for leveraging social media.

A common observation was that real-life examples had a strong appeal to audiences, potentially because they made gender equality issues more relatable. Stories and visuals from everyday experiences appear to resonate better with target audiences.

Partners agreed that social media is effective for achieving a broad reach of campaign messages but acknowledged the tendency for engagement to be limited. How campaigns achieve broad reach was also debated, with partners noting the need to consider the quality of reach. Paid ads could get the messages out to more people, but are they the intended audience, and will they engage with the messages?

Investment in social media varied across the campaigns. Some partners worked purely on social media; others used social media to drive audiences to more interactive, in-depth activities. While there was consensus on the need to use social media, many partners raised the need to complement it with other interventions.

Engaging men remained a common challenge for campaign partners. While female audiences have responded to social media campaigns and influencers’ messages on gender equality, men’s participation remained negligible, particularly in positive conversations.

The workshops acknowledged the need to investigate this observation further. Some partners suggested more profound audience research to understand how best to attract men’s attention, including possible incentives for men to engage. Others raised questions on disincentives for male engagement and how to work around them.

Measuring results was another prominent theme during the workshops. Partners have been challenged in measuring the extent to which the campaigns led to changes in attitudes, behaviours, and perceptions among target audiences. They agreed that future campaigns should have robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in place.

There was a collaborative spirit during the sessions, with partners drawing on each other’s experiences. The workshops also encouraged the contestability of results, promoting partners to deepen their understanding of the impact they are claiming.

Learnings from the campaigns are expected to inform IW’s approaches for its next phase starting in July 2023. This next phase will retain a workstream on Influencing Gender Norms and a commitment to work through local partnerships.

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