Stereotypes are hard to change as they are regarded as facts of life, and their persistence can adversely affect early childhood development. These stereotypes can include parental roles and household tasks. Yet, innovators also reported on-the-ground examples where expected stereotypes were not being followed, and hopeful examples in the uptake of their work.
How are innovators working to shift cultural norms in their communities?
“Our approach to gender equality and reducing gender-based risk focuses on increasing empathy, looking at negative consequences of criticism, using every opportunity to promote the rights and needs to the baby. Learning Clubs is intended to challenge stereotypes about women, and not to make men feel humiliated or embarrassed. Endorsement by local authorities and community leaders has been essential to acceptance of Learning Clubs.”
- Jane Fisher, Learning Clubs
“We apply learnings from programs across our organization to inform our ECD program’s faith engagement components and strategy. For example, we use scripture and other religious texts from an interfaith program addressing violence against women and children to unpack the religious and cultural norms particularly around POWER dynamics and how that impacts violence in the home.”
- Melissa Crutchfield, Episcopal Relief & Development
“In these communities, women are not allowed to work. Village Councils selected a number of women including a number of young women to take on the role of CHWs. It took time for the CHWs to be accepted by the communities and the beneficiary households, but once that happened several unanticipated positive consequences occurred: The CHWs reported feeling more confident, they began to be seen as leaders in their community, some have gone onto post-secondary education, and mothers and grandmothers have expressed their desire to help other women."
- Hana Rabadi, Empowering Palestinian Mothers