SASA! is a groundbreaking community mobilization approach developed by
Raising Voices for preventing violence against women and HIV.





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 HIV36images

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.  

Why SASA!?

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 aPicture 3bout 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. 

Download the SASA! Activist Kit

Order a hard copy of SASA! Activist Kit

SASA! In Action44images

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 15 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. Current partners include (but are not limited to!):


  • Women against Rape (WAR): Download materials here.


  • International Rescue Committee (IRC): Download materials here.
  • CARE


  • Civil Society Programme, Ethiopia
  • International Medical Corps
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  • Negem Lela Ken New HIV Positive Women Support Organization (NLK): Download materials here.


  • Center for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW)
  • Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW): Download materials here.


  • Girls Empowerment Network (GENET)
  • Malawi Human Rights for Women and Girls with Disabilities (MHRWGD)


  • International Rescue Committee (IRC)

 South Sudan

  • American Refugee Committee


  • Kivulini Women’s Rights Organization
  • Women’s Promotion Center


  • Catholic Church of Uganda
  • Lira Women & Children Development Initiative Transit Shelter, Uganda
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  • Private Sector Foundation, Uganda
  • Trocaire
  • Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV (UGANET)


  • Zambia Center for Communication Program (ZCCP)

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:

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.

SASA! Study

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 Trial

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. 

Outcomes EvaluatedPicture 4

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.

Results include:

  • 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.[1]

“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.[1]

 [1]Statistically significant

Hear from community activists about how SASA! inspired change. Watch the videos below:

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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.

Thank you

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:

Protocol Paper         Main Results Paper            Results Power Point            CSO Information Sheet          Community Information Sheet              

SASA! A Film about Violence, Women and HIV (2007)SASAfilm-images

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.

Watch the 6 minute film.

Global SASA!22images

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.

SASA! Adaptations39images

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!

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