What does it take to prevent violence against women? For us, SASA! is part of the answer. It is uniquely designed to address a core driver of violence against women and HIV: the imbalance of power between women and men, girls and boys. Documented in a comprehensive and easy-to-use Activist Kit, SASA! inspires and enables communities to rethink and reshape social norms.
What makes SASA! unique?
- SASA! is about power: SASA! is unique in its focus on unpacking power, both its positive and negative uses, shifting away from the traditional focus on “gender” towards the heart of the problem.
- SASA! walks communities through a process of change: SASA! evolves step-by-step, avoiding the chronic cycle of awareness-raising.
- SASA! involves everyone! SASA! engages a critical mass of people across all levels of society in order to create social norm change.
- SASA! is personal: It is more than just a program or a job. It is a part of us. SASA! helps staff and community members to reflect on their own lives and relationships before trying to influence others.
- SASA! works! SASA! is helping to create happier, healthier, safer relationships between men and women around the world.
Sasa is a Kiswahili word that means now. Now is the time to prevent violence against women and its connection to HIV/AIDS. We all have the power to act!
“If it was possible, everyone in this community should come to SASA! activities to hear. They really touch us a lot because they base on reality not just ‘wolokoso’ (empty talking).”
– Community Member
SASA! Activist Kit for Preventing Violence against Women and HIV
How are you using your power? This is a central question explored in the SASA! approach. Provocative and systematic, SASA! is a creative approach for changing the social norms that perpetuate women’s vulnerability to violence and HIV.
We know that violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of HIV infection. We know that the power imbalance between men and women fuels these pandemics. But how can we address such a complex and deeply rooted issue? SASA! is Raising Voices’ response to this question. It is a comprehensive approach documented in a user-friendly program tool. Many organizations, institutions, and groups interested in mobilizing communities to prevent violence against women and HIV are using SASA!.
How SASA! works
SASA is a Kiswahili word that means now. Now is the time to take action to prevent violence against women and HIV! It is also an acronym for the four phases of community mobilization that scale up the stages of change to enable a community to move through a series of activities and experiences naturally. Each phase uses four different strategies to engage community members in a variety of ways.
- During the first phase, Start, violence against women and HIV/AIDS are introduced as interconnected issues and community members begin to foster power within themselves to address these issues.
- In the second phase, Awareness, community members experience a growing awareness about how our communities accept men’s use of power over women, fueling the dual pandemics of violence against women and HIV.
- Throughout the third phase, Support, community members will discover how to support the women, men and activists directly affected by or involved in these interconnected issues, by joining their power with others’.
- In the fourth and final phase, Action, community members will explore different ways to take action. Use your power to prevent violence against women and HIV.
SASA! includes practical resources, activities and monitoring and assessment tools for local activism, media and advocacy, communication materials and training that organizations working on violence or HIV/AIDS can use to incorporate these cross-cutting issues into their work.
SASA! In Action
Organizations, institutions and groups are using SASA! all over Africa and beyond. Although SASA! looks different in each community there are also basic components that remain the same. Primarily the practice of phasing in ideas over time, reaching out to a cross section of community members, focusing activities and discussions around power and having community members and leaders at the forefront of all efforts.
SASA! is currently being used in 13 countries by more than 35 organizations and institutions in various contexts and settings such as:
- Refugee camps and settlements
- Pastoralist communities
- High-density urban communities
- Catholic and Muslim faith-based institutions
- Rural communities
- Post-conflict communities
In 2010, Raising Voices, in partnership with CEDOVIP, began working with the following national and regional partners as part of a 3 year intensive technical support partnership.
- Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW), Kenya
- Women against Rape (WAR), Botswana
- CARE, Burundi
- International Rescue Committee (IRC), Ethiopia
- Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization, Tanzania
- American Refugee Council (ARC), Uganda
- CESVI, Uganda
- Lira Women & Children Development Initiative Transit Shelter, Uganda
- Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV (UGANET), Uganda
- Soroti Catholic Diocese/Trocaire, Uganda
- Oxfam and Child Concern Initiatives Organization (CCIO), Uganda
- Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), Uganda
- Uganda National Health Users/Consumers’ Organization (UNHCO), Uganda
Currently, Raising Voices has provided technical support to over 50 organizations in more than 15 countries using SASA! in their communities and interest continues to grow.
Interested in learning more about SASA! in Action? Contact us.
What does it take to prevent violence against women and HIV? This is the driving question behind the SASA! study. This study, a unique collaboration between Raising Voices, CEDOVIP, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Makerere University is investigating the impact of the SASA! approach in communities in Kampala.
The SASA! study is a pair-matched cluster randomized controlled trial being conducted in eight communities in Kampala. It is one of the few cluster randomized trials globally to assess the community wide impact of a violence prevention intervention.
The study assesses the community-level impact of SASA! on the following primary outcomes:
- Attitudes towards the acceptability of violence against women and the acceptability of a woman refusing sex (among male and female community members).
- Past year experience of physical intimate partner violence and sexual intimate partner violence (among females).
- Community responses to women experiencing violence (among women reporting past year physical/sexual partner violence).
- Past year concurrency of sexual partners (among males).
In addition to the trial, the SASA! study includes:
- Extensive qualitative research to explore the nature and dynamics of social change and the diffusion of ideas.
- A costing study to assess the cost effectiveness of SASA!.
What does it mean?
The multi-disciplinary research approach enables us to address questions of intervention impact and mechanisms of action, as well as its feasibility and transferability to other contexts.
The results are encouraging and hold important lessons for moving forward in the prevention of violence against women and HIV. Results launches are taking place now in Kampala and around the region.
August and September’s events included a:
- Launch with our Local Advisory Committee and Board Members to share results with the groups who supported and helped lead the process.
- Launch with the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development Officials and Members of Parliament to share results and discuss implications for policy and programming for the Government of Uganda.
- Launch with Gender Donors in Kampala. This was a joint event held with Irish Aid at the Irish Mission to share results with funders and discuss implications for future funding of VAW prevention.
- Public Launch in Kampala with academics, policy makers, civil society, police, health care officials, UN agencies, funders and researchers. Over 80 community members joined us to share results, discuss implications for Ugandan government, civil society and research.
- Public Launch in Nairobi with more than 40 academics, Government of Kenya Officials, civil society, UN agencies, and donors. Anne Gathumbi, Board Chairperson at Raising Voices and Director of Learning, Evaluation and Achievement Program at the Open Society Institute opened the event. Saida Ali, Executive Director of the Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) also did a presentation on how SASA! is being implemented in Kenya.
- Community Activist Launch for Community Activists in both Makindya and Rubaga to share results, get feedback, and celebrate!
In October, SASA! results were also launched to the VAW research community at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative’s 2013 Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. Preliminary trial results were launched in plenary by Dr. Charlotte Watts and Dr. Karen DeVries of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and there was also a parallel session in which Lori Michau talked about the approach and programmatic learnings, Dr. Nambusi Kyegombe (LSHTM) and Elizabeth Starmann (LSHTM) shared preliminary qualitative analysis around pathways of change at the individual, couple and community level.
We look forward to sharing more about the compelling results with you. Watch this space!
Learn more about the SASA! Study:
SASA! A Film about Violence, Women and HIV (2007)
How are violence against women and HIV connected? Does experiencing one fuel the other? The SASA! film is a 30-minute documentary that explores the connections between violence, HIV and power in women’s lives. This film is an inspiring look at two women’s lives and a call to action for everyone to begin working to prevent violence against women and HIV infection now.
The film was a creative collaboration by Raising Voices and the People’s Picture Company and is also included in the SASA! Activist Kit for Preventing Violence against Women and HIV. A Screening Guide is included to help you use the film as an education and advocacy tool in your efforts to prevent violence against women and HIV. The film can also be viewed as a shortened six minute version.
Watch the 30 minute full-length film:
How the Film is Used
People all over Africa are watching the SASA! film. It is being used in communities, offices, health clinics and government offices and ministries. The SASA! film is also used extensively in universities in the Global North to help students better understand the realities of women’s lives in East and Southern Africa.
The SASA! film has been screened extensively in international film festivals and won The Chris Statuette—the highest award possible from the ‘Chris Awards,’ at the 55th Columbus International Film & Video Festival and the Columbine Award for Short Documentary at the Moondance Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.
The SASA! film is available in English and Swahili. Click here to watch or order the film.
Communities around the world are using SASA! to create safer, healthier ways of living. From Haiti to Cote D’Ivoire, Botswana to South Sudan and beyond, activists are exploring and shifting power dynamics between men and women. This presents an incredible opportunity for learning and growth. Raising Voices will work to unite and stimulate the global SASA! community in order to:
- Build synergy between groups that will help us to explore and understand our work more deeply.
- Learn more about SASA!, how it is applied and is taking root in different contexts.
- Challenge each other to develop new ways of strengthening the work.
- Build momentum amongst activists.
Through in-person events and remote exchanges, global SASA! partners will share their experiences, cross-fertilize ideas, arouse momentum for their work and stimulate growth in the field of violence prevention.
We are currently working with organizations in Haiti and Ethiopia and faith-based institutions in Uganda to create a SASA! approach that is specifically tailored to each unique context.
In Haiti, for example, we are collaborating with Beyond Borders who is working with translators, cultural consultants, long-time activists in violence against women, Haitian artists and graphic designers to adapt, test, design and print components of SASA!. Activists in Haiti have found that adapting materials, rather than simply translating them, creates a higher level of excitement and engagement within community members. So far, the SASA! introduction, all communication materials and soap operas for all phases of SASA!, most local activism pieces and the training materials for the Start and Awareness phases are completed. The adaptation process is ongoing for other SASA! materials.
In Ethiopia, the Civil Society Support Programme (CSSP) of the British Council is working in unique partnership with Raising Voices to adapt the SASA! Activist Kit for the Ethiopian context. CSSP is engaging civil society, government, and donors to pilot the SASA! approach in at least two regions of Ethiopia in 2013. Learning from the pilot implementation, they will adapt key sections of the Kit to make them more relevant, and ultimately more effective, for Ethiopian communities. This new and exciting collaboration fosters flexibility and ownership of SASA! at a local and national level, in order to expand its impact for women and communities in the region.
The adaptation processes are led by groups in various countries and regions, with Raising Voices providing technical oversight, guidance, and support. If you are interested in adapting SASA!, you are welcome to get in touch with us. The process begins with initial connection and conversation, after which we sign a simple agreement on use and adaptation then get started in supporting the adaptation process.
Would you like to be part of the global SASA! community? Are you already using SASA!? Contact us!