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Engaging youth to question their views on masculinities and femininities, raising their awareness and try to change their attitudes
UNDP’s context analysis study in 2011-2012 revealed that gender based violence is the most prevalent form of violence that threatened community security in Nepal. Another worrying fact was the “normalization” of GBV within a larger section of the Nepali society. Hence, the innovative project aimed a simple intervention that would draw people’s attention to the oft-ignored forms of violence and discriminatory practices against women, connected to the accepted norms of masculinities and femininities. The project targeted young users of social media, to make them understand the issue, internalize it and become catalysts of change.
The project engaged the young people to challenge existing gender norms through social media. A Facebook application was designed with short animated videos depicting varying forms of gender based violence, albeit in reversed gender roles. This was followed by quiz questions, some of which were simple yes/no questions that would elicit straight forward responses while others were trick questions to see if the people really believed in what they were saying. Few wrap up questions were designed to monitor the effectiveness of the game.
We worked with youth networks, gender and masculinity experts, who provided input into the content, process and medium, during project design and testing. We also engaged with 13-19 years old students at High Schools in the Kathmandu valley, during the message design and testing phase. We worked with the media to bring this issue to the attention of a larger audience. We worked with the Noah’s Ark animation company and the University of Chicago Gaming Lab for the design of animation and the package.
The videos generated some good debates on the issue on the UNDP Facebook page, engaging thousands of young Nepalis (over 40,000 likes for the game in the UNDP Facebook). Over 570 people participated in the social media quiz game by watching the animated videos and answering the quiz questions. The analysis of the Facebook users’ data show that, 80 percent of the respondents to the quiz questions said they found the video interesting and would share it with friends and families. More positively, almost 86 percent of the respondents said, the animated videos were able to prod them to think about the often invisible/ignored forms of violence in our communities. What further validated the impact of the innovative game was that over 85 percent of the respondents, who watched the animated videos, said they would change their behavior based on the understanding of the traditional roles of men and women. The program was picked up by the National media and an hour long Radio Talk program was aired on the issue. Youth blogs also picked up on the issue and shared information about the project on their blog spots. More recently, discussions on masculinities has been accorded prime space in the most popular National Daily, Kantipur, with two big features on the issue being published recently.
There could be innovative entry points to engage even on deep rooted issues -so prevalent that they seem beyond our capacities to address.
Dissecting the problem in the most detailed way in collaboration with the potential beneficiaries of the end product, helps design approaches that can address these issues holistically.
Online advertisement costs very little but reaches out to relatively larger number of people, and for anything that requires online engagement, online advertisement would be the best avenue.
However, a lot needs to be done to garner acceptance for the fast pace of the innovative approaches that involve prototyping, extensive engagement with end users during the design phase and acceptance of potential failure as part of the game.
Innovative projects should be complemented with more agile mechanisms to implement these quick and high impact projects, that better address procedural bottlenecks (delays and hassles). No matter how innovative a project may be, the overall performance of the project depends on the flexibility of the operating system.
Sachchi Karki: Sachchi.firstname.lastname@example.org