Update on the Practitioner's Learning Group on Social Norms

Oxfam and SEEP are pleased to announce the launch of the Practitioners' Learning Group (PLG) on Shifting Social Norms in the Economy at Scale!

This initiative, which aims to better understand how to address social norms in the economy and create change at scale (see here for more details on this initiative), generated great interest, with a total of 46 applications received. The composition of the PLG (see bio below) represents diverse expertise and includes representatives from Oxfam, CARE, Swiss Contact, Mars Chocolate, Promundo and International Youth Foundation.

The PLG process is supported by:

  • Claudia Canepa, Oxfam, PLG Process Coordinator
  • Nisha Singh, on behalf of SEEP, Facilitator
  • Anam Parvez Butt, Oxfam, Researcher
  • Rukia Cornelius, Oxfam, Technical expert

Main questions of focus

  • What are social norms in the economy?
  • How do we diagnose social norms in specific contexts?
  • What strategies are effective at creating change at scale?
  • How do we measure change in social norms?

Process and progress to date

Step 1: Initial interviews with PLG members

In April, PLG members participated in bilateral interviews with Nisha Singh, facilitator of the PLG process, to share their key challenges in addressing social norms in their markets development work. These bilateral interviews helped shape the overall learning process of the PLG.

Step 2: Initial call and testing a tool to diagnose social norms

On May 4, all PLG members participated in a joint call to launch the PLG where they discussed: What social norms in the economy are, and reviewed and commented on a tool developed by Oxfam to identify and understand the social norms that are at play in the context where the Empower Youth for Work programme is operating in Bangladesh.

After this call, Oxfam tested the diagnostic tool in Bangladesh, and processed the findings. Swiss contact plans to also test this tool in Kosovo.

Step 3: Sharing initial insights and getting feedback from a wider group (May 26)

The PLG organised a session at the SEEP WEE Global Learning Forum on May 26 to share initial insights from the PLG, and promote wider discussion on strategies that are most effective to create change at scale. Anam Parvez shared an overview of a literature review that she is conducting on social norms in the economy, Imogen Davies and Pushpita Saha presented the diagnostic tool that Oxfam  tested in Bangladesh, as well as key findings from the application of the tool.  Finally, Emily Hillenbrand and Pranati Moharanj shared Care’s strategies for shifting social norms, and approach to measuring change. More than 70 people attended the session, which aims to give more visibility to the PLG as a step towards forming a wider Community of Practice on Social norms in the Economy. The video recording of this session can be accessed here.

This session gave PLG members who were present at the event the opportunity to meet face-to face and build rapport with each other.  We also were able to give greater visibility to our initiative, and begin to build a wider learning network of practitioners interested in working on social norms in the economy at scale.


4)  Sharing of key social norms and discussion of strategies to address them in our own programmes (June 21)

On June 21, the PLG held a second call to share a specific social norm that their programme is addressing or needs to address. PLG members then had the opportunity to ask questions to better understand the norm, and share experiences on effective strategies for changing or spreading the norm. 

Step 4:  Understanding what we mean by change at scale, and pathways to deliver that change

At the third PLG call held on July 18 -  a guest speaker, Ben Cislaghi, Lecturer in social norms at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, presented insights from social norm theory and implications for markets development programmes to help frame the discussion. The group then discussed what they mean by change at scale and what pathways to change at scale look like, as well as effective pathways to deliver that change 

Step 5:  Sharing of approaches to measuring change, and creating change at scale

On the fourth call held on September 25, Ben Cislaghi joined the group again and gave a brief presentation on measurement of norms change. This was followed by 3 PLG member presentations on the same topic:

  • Leigh Stefanik presented CARE’s Social Norms Analysis Plot (SNAP) tool, a framework to measure if and how norms are changing through the use of  qualitative vignettes, and survey questions.
  • Kate Doyle presented Promundo’s work on measuring social norms around violence and gender in Tanzania and Uganda using the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES).
  • Thalia Kidder presented on how the WE-Care programme has measured change in norms over time through a mix of qualitative (Rapid Care Analysis , FDGs on Social Norms and Care) and quantitative research. The quantitative research was conducted using Oxfam’s Household Care Survey , which measures mixture of norms on gender roles and responsibilities , as well as economic norms.  

Following the calls, the SEEP facilitator distributed a survey to all PLG members to gather final reflections on the PLG process.

Step 6: Documentation and dissemination:

Insights from the PLG process were shared at different points during the process, such as at the WEE Learning Forum organised by SEEP in May, a webinar to EYW countries in August, the WEE working group meeting at the annual SEEP conference in October,  and a session on social norms during the EYW Learning Event in November.

We are now in the process of developing all the final outputs in order to be able to share them more widely. 

  • Summary of PLG process, including briefs on the work on social norms of each organisation represented in the PLG
  • Practitioner guide on how to shift social norms at scale in markets development programmes
  • Literature review on organisations that are working on social norms in the economic sphere, how they diagnose them and strategies for creating change, including approaches to measuring change.

Join the Community of Practice on Social Norms

This PLG process and other learning processes organised by Market associates, etc. aim to begin to establish a Community of Practice around the topic of norms change in markets development programmes.  If you are interested in joining the CoP, please let us know by sending an email to Claudia Canepa at ccanepa@oxfam.org.uk.

PLG members

Roselyn Nyatsanza - Oxfam
Roselyn is passionate about poverty alleviation and in particular women’s empowerment. She has over 15 years experience of managing gender, women’s rights, youth and community development and hands on programming from design to evaluation. Rose has been involved in the social-development sector managing and coordinating multiyear projects since 2003 moving from the private sector straight into heading a network of local nongovernmental organizations working on food security and child rights. Her first years centered on financial and grants management She was instrumental in building capacity of local organizations from governance to grant management and strategy development.
Thalia Kidder - Oxfam

Thalia leads Oxfam's initiative WE-Care (women's economic empowerment and care), designing the Rapid Care Analysis and Household Care Survey to collect evidence for  advocacy and programme design. She was Oxfam’s lead trainer on women's economic leadership in agricultural markets in Asia and Latin America, and advised the research project Women's Collective Action, covering Ethiopia, Mali, and Tanzania. Over 25 years, based in Central America, US and UK, her work also includes women workers' rights in Make Trade Fair campaigning, gendered micro-finance, and community and labour organizing. Thalia holds an MA in Economic Development (University Minnesota) and is member of IAFFE.

Tanjima Ali - Swiss Contact - Kosovo
Tanjima has spent the last seven years working on a wide range of projects within the private and international development sectors. Having gathered extensive knowledge in quality assurance of monitoring, data collection, research design, analysis and documentation of PSD projects in South Asia and East Africa, Tanjima is now the MRM specialist at the PPSE project in Kosovo. Tanjima completed her MBA from Dhaka University and her BS in Engineering from BRAC University, Bangladesh.
Ritu Sharma - International Youth Foundation
Ritu Sharma leads the Global Center for Gender and Youth (GCGY) at the International Youth Foundation. Prior to IYF, Ritu was the co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide, a leading advocacy organization bringing the voices of women and girls around the globe to Washington’s highest-level decision makers. Ritu’s advocacy was instrumental in the creation of the White House Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, announced by President Obama in August 2012. Also under her direction, Women Thrive was the driving force behind the US Agency for International Development’s establishment of the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy in the same year. After 17 years at the helm of Women Thrive, Ritu departed in December 2014. In addition to her role as Director of the GCGY, Ritu trains groups around the world in the art of advocacy; advises non-profit and private firms on programs for youth, women and girls; and hosts an occasional radio special on SiriusXM’s Insight Channel.
Emily Hillenbrand - CARE
Emily Hillenbrand is Team Leader for the Pathways Program, a flagship initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to empower and increase the productivity and empowerment of 52,000 poor women smallholder farmers in more equitable agriculture systems. Emily’s work and research focus is on integrating gender-transformative approaches to food and nutrition security programming. She has expertise in leading and designing qualitative approaches and participatory processes to assess gender behavior changes at intra-household and community levels. She has co-produced several training curricula and published a number of articles and presentations related to gender and food security. She holds a MA in Women, Gender and Development from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. She has previously worked as Regional Gender Advisor at Helen Keller International (HKI) Asia-Pacific Regional Office, and as Program Manager and Gender Technical Advisor for HKI Bangladesh.
Imogen Davies - Oxfam
As Youth Active Citizenship Adviser, Imogen coordinates Oxfam GB's youth strategy and manages programme development and design processes. She also feeds into the strategic direction of Oxfam's cross-affiliate Youth as Active Citizens network, leading the Gender Justice working group and supporting the Learning Community and Programme Development Coordination Team. She has previously worked in programme advisory, development and learning posts for Oxfam GB programme initiatives on Women's Economic Empowerment and Youth Active Citizenship (including My Rights, My Voice, Women's Economic Empowerment and Care, Researching Women's Collective Action in Agricultural Markets and Gendered Enterprise and Markets). 
Kate Doyle - Promundo
Kate Doyle is a Senior Program Officer at Promundo, where her experience centers on program development, training, and research related to engaging men and boys. She currently coordinates several research projects and programs related to engaging men as allies in women’s economic empowerment, preventing intimate partner violence, and men’s caregiving and participation in maternal, newborn and child health. She previously worked as a Program Officer for Promundo in Washington, DC and as Promundo’s Rwanda Project Coordinator in Kigali, Rwanda, before relocating to Belgium. Prior to that, she worked with UNAIDS and other NGOs in Rwanda to research and develop programming related to gender equality, HIV, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). This work included the development of national policies related to gender equality and HIV, and advocacy on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth and key populations. Kate has a Master's degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh.
Inge Jacobs - Mars Chocolate
Inge Jacobs was born in Belgium, grew up in Rwanda and has been living abroad, in Africa and Latin America. She has an academic background in law, with master’s degrees in human rights and public health. Inge has an extensive experience leading, implementing and evaluating programs that improve the lives of vulnerable people, with a passion for increasing the rights and quality of life of women and children. Inge has extensive experience in capacity building and strengthening of community organizations, monitoring and evaluation, results-based management as well as forming strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in benefit of the programs and projects she led. Inge covers broad knowledge and experience on human rights and women and children´s rights in particular, gender, community development, capacity building and health systems strengthening, HIV/Aids, and social and behavior change communication processes. She is currently working as a consultant for Mars Chocolate, based in Abidjan, where she is acting as Mars’ gender focal point in Côte d’Ivoire, working in cocoa producing communities.
Nurul Siddique - CARE
Siddiquee supports CARE’s Agriculture and market systems program in more than seven countries of Asia and Africa. He provides technical and programmatic support to other food and non food value chains program and social enterprises at a number CARE country offices. Siddiquee is a key contributor to CARE’s agriculture and market systems work and has developed guidance notes and approaches to agriculture programming and ensured the systematic sharing of lessons to CARE’s peers and partners. He has coauthored CAREs book on ‘Sustainability of Smallholder Agriculture value chain: Lessons learned from Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain Project in Bangladesh’.
Pranati Mohanraj - CARE
Dr. Pranati Mohanraj is the Technical Advisor for Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation for the Pathways program at CARE. She has extensive experience in establishing monitoring and evaluation system; providing technical leadership for development of critical program indicators, monitoring and assessment tools; and in conducting impact measurements. Her work life spans engaging with country level government departments; grassroots level organizations; as well as providing technical support and guidance to countries across Africa and South Asia. She leads processes for developing monitoring, learning and evaluation framework and system; impact measurement and evaluation research; and capacity building of staff on program implementation. She came to CARE with a Masters’ degree in Social Work and a PhD in Women’s Studies from University of York in the UK.
Pushpita Saha - Oxfam
As Sr. MEAL Officer for Oxfam in Bangladesh, Pushpita supports the project Empowering Youth for Work- which aims to bring economic and social empowerment for young women and men living in rural climate-change affected areas in Bangladesh. She has over four years of practical experience in monitoring and evaluation of non-profit programmes aiming to protect and secure the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable women and men through more equitable access to and control over natural resources and influence national and local governments to ensure a more favourable, transparent and accountable resource allocation for service provision to rural and urban poor. She has experience in developing tools, processes and automated systems for monitoring, evaluation and knowledge management of development programmes that integrates gender-sensitive and rights-based approaches.