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 more than 20 countries around the world 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
Raising Voices and CEDOVIP support partners around the region to use the SASA! approach in their communities.
Interested in technical support?
Raising Voices works with a skilled team of Technical Advisors who have undergone extensive training by Raising Voices on the SASA! approach and who we can recommend highly. Please contact us for the full list: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about SASA! and how to get started, download our Getting Started Tool here.
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 investigates 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 SASA! Study was the first-ever research trial in Africa to assess community-level change of a VAW prevention program.
Whether SASA! can . . .
- reduce the social acceptability of violence against women
- reduce women’s experience of physical violence from an intimate partner
- impact HIV risk behaviors
- improve community response toward women experiencing violence
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!
The results are encouraging and hold important lessons for moving forward in the prevention of violence against women and HIV.
The level of physical partner violence against women was 52% lower in SASA! communities than in control communities.
“I have changed a lot. I no longer beat her as I used to. I no longer use abusive language on her.
—male community member
In SASA! communities 76% of women and men believe physical violence against a partner is not acceptable while only 26% of women and men in control communities believe the same.
“In the past, we would just ignore if a man beat his wife, but now I think it is not okay to ignore.”
—female community member
In SASA! communities 28% more women and men believe it is acceptable for a woman to refuse sex than women and men in control communities.
“I learned that some of the things I used to do were not right at all . . . for instance I thought that whenever I needed sex I had to have it without her denying me.”
—male community member
Women exposed to SASA! were 3 times more likely to receive helpful support when reporting violence than women not exposed to SASA!
“In the past, we would just ignore if a man beat his wife, but now I think it is not okay to ignore.”
—female community member
In SASA! communities, 27% of men reported concurrent sexual partners whereas 45% of men in control communities reported multiple partners.
Hear from community activists about how SASA! inspired change. Watch the videos below:
What does it mean?
This study proves that violence is preventable, that social norm change is faster than imagined, that community-based approaches can be rigorous and measurable, and that the field of VAW prevention is on the threshold of something powerful. In sub-Saharan Africa, 58% of people living with HIV are women, and up to 71% of women experience violence from intimate partners. It is time to act.
What can you do?
PRIORITIZE violence against women prevention. While services and legal reform are important, we must honor women’s human rights and actually prevent violence from happening in the first place.
INVEST in community mobilization approaches. Community-based approaches shift the social norms of a community, creating multiple indirect effects benefitting public health, development goals and children’s rights.
CREATE partnerships between activist organizations and research institutions. By working as equals and learning from each other, we will advance the field of VAW prevention and deepen each other’s practice.
DEVELOP new methods for evaluating social norm change approaches. A randomized control trial will not always be the best option. We need a range of research methods in our toolbox to fully understand the dynamics of change.
The SASA! Study was generously supported by Irish Aid, Sigrid Rausing Trust, An Anonymous Donor, Novo Foundation and 3ie.
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 the Caribbean to the Middle East, and from South East Asia to the South Pacific, activists from over 20 countries and 60 organizations are exploring and shifting power dynamics between women and men. SASA! is being used in humanitarian contexts, rural and urban areas, by diverse types of organizations and groups.
This presents an incredible opportunity for learning and growth. Raising Voices is working 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!, and how it 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 are starting to share their experiences, cross-fertilize ideas, arouse momentum for their work and stimulate growth in the field of violence prevention. In addition, we are trying to learn what makes for effective SASA! adaptation. For example, Raising Voices and University of California San Diego are working with three key partners who have conducted global SASA! adaptations understand more about what makes adaptations successful. Learnings will be synthesized into tools for other organizations looking to adapt SASA!
Current SASA! Adaptations
Raising Voices is currently working with a number of organizations to create SASA! adaptations specifically tailored to each unique context. In particular, there are two full SASA! Adaptations that are completed to date: SASA! Faith and the adaptation for Haiti.
For more information about SASA! Faith, click here.
Haiti SASA! Adaptation
In Haiti, Raising Voices collaborated with Beyond Borders’ Rethinking Power program to adapt the full SASA! Activist Kit for Haitian communities. As the first organization to fully adapt SASA! outside of Africa, activists in Haiti have found that adapting materials, rather than simply translating them, creates a higher level of excitement and engagement within community members, and also ensures that the ideas and images are locally relevant and effective.
Keeping faithful to the core principles and outcomes of SASA!, the Beyond Borders team worked with translators, cultural consultants, Haitian artists and designers, and community activists while they implemented SASA!, to complete an adaptation of the full kit, available in Haitian Creole here. Beyond Borders now offers technical support to several Haitian organizations implementing SASA! throughout Haiti, and offers a variety of short term trainings on violence against women prevention in Haitian Creole, much like the Raising Voices learning center. For more information on SASA! in Haiti, contact see beyondborders.net or write at email@example.com
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!
SASA! Faith is an initiative in which leaders, members and believers of a religion come together to prevent violence against women and HIV. It mobilizes faith communities and inspires everyone to live the faith based values of justice, peace and dignity in their intimate relationships.
Raising Voices in partnership with Trócaire developed SASA! Faith, an adaptation of SASA! An Activist Kit for Preventing Violence against Women and HIV, which is itself a proven methodology. To read more about SASA! and the study results, click here.
SASA! Faith takes the structure, process and content of the original SASA! and adapts it for use in Christian and Muslim communities. SASA! Faith seeks similar outcomes as SASA! on knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior, and uses a phased approach to get there. SASA! Faith uses planning, monitoring and assessment tools to help determine if a faith community is ready to move on to the next phase. Everyone in the faith community is involved– religious leaders, program leaders at local churches/mosques, members of churches/mosques and their families, faith-based media and services, local faith-based organizations who run programs or provide services.
Why SASA! Faith?
SASA! Faith was developed because of the incredible power of faith communities to prevent VAW and HIV.
- People experiencing violence look to their religious leaders, to their friends from mosque/ church, and to the teachings of their religion for guidance and support for change.
- Many religions have a long history of working for justice and helping those in need. They also hold as a primary mission – the transformation of human society to reflect faith values.
- Religious leaders and fellow worshipers have the trust of a large and committed body of believers who are eager to listen and live their lives based on their guidance and religious principles.
- Religious institutions often have well-organized networks of people in both urban and rural areas, as well as allies at all levels interested in supporting their efforts. Day to day, homilies or sermons, prayer groups and other faith-based activities bring the same people together again and again, and in doing so, shape those people’s attitudes and behaviors.
Who can use SASA! Faith?
SASA! Faith can be initiated by anyone who cares about violence in their faith community. For example, a dedicated office or group within a faith community, an influential religious leader or faith community member, a non-governmental organization that works closely with faith communities, or you!
Interested in using SASA! Faith?
There are a number of materials that can help faith communities and organizations begin with SASA! Faith. Please note that full implementation of SASA! Faith is highly recommended, as it has the most potential for bringing about sustained, positive change. It requires time (2-3 years), commitment and some basic resources (especially human!).
Learn more about SASA! Faith–download the brochure here.
Here is how you can get started with SASA! Faith:
1. Download SASA! Faith: 1. a guide, 2. training manual, 3. CD with all the materials and 4. supplemental materials. You can also order a hard copy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Hard copy does not include supplemental materials, which will only be available for download.
2. Read “SASA! Faith Essentials” within the guide, and get familiar with SASA! Faith overall. If you are interested in moving forward, SASA! Faith has many tools and resources to help you begin.
3. If you would like additional support, you can apply to take the SASA! Faith technical support course from Raising Voices and Trócaire. The first course is scheduled January 2017 in Kampala, Uganda.
For any questions or more information on SASA! Faith and the comprehensive user friendly SASA! Faith guide, please contact us at email@example.com
) قال تعالى : والَّذِينَ جَاهدوا فينا لنهدينَّهُم سُبلناَ وإِنَّ اللهَ لمع الُمْسِنين) سورة العنكبوت: ٩٦
“And as for those who strive in our path — we will surely guide them in our ways. And
Indeed, Allah is with those who are of service to others.”
- Holy Quran, Surah 29: Al-’Ankabut: 69
“There is nothing I cannot do in the One who strengthens me.”
- Philippians 4:13