A world without child marriage would be a more gender-equal world. One way your Power to Girls commitment can deliver real change on child marriage is to commit to programming that transforms harmful social norms that restrict and repress girls and women and reduce their life chances.
To be effective, social norms interventions need to take place alongside interventions that provide services, care and protection. This strategy recognises that there are many different ways to transform social norms – from community mobilisation to large-scale structural programming – and aims to be complimentary between these different pathways.
Governments, civil society organisations and other stakeholders should:
- Fund and support long-term social norms transformation – over four years or more – with a focus on gender equality, alongside large-scale structural programmes. This will ensure that programming to change attitudes and behaviours is accompanied by access to the tools and services individuals need to exercise their rights. Multi-year funding recognises that sustainable transformation of social norms takes many years to secure.
- Invest in social norms programming that focuses on all who influence attitudes that result in child marriage, engaging communities and leaders, including boys and men. This will ensure that the transformation of norms around child marriage are supported by the whole community.
- Ensure community mobilisation programming led by frontline workers from those communities – specifically community dialogue programmes and wider mass media campaigns that address widely-held attitudes and offer alternatives to the status quo – is the basis of programming to transform social norms. This will ensure that the broad-base transformation of social norms needed to influence child marriage will be felt across the wider community.
These recommendations come from Girls Not Brides Decade of Progress report. This is a milestone paper marking our tenth anniversary which brings together insights we have gained and steps we must all take to harness our collective energy and accelerate change over the next decade.