Raising Voices

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SASA! is an evidence-based community mobilization approach to prevent violence against women. Developed with a combination of theory, practice and relentless optimism, SASA! encourages communities around the world to personally and collectively use our power to create safe, violence-free communities for women.

Raising Voices first published the SASA! Activist Kit in 2008, providing a new tool in the nascent field of violence against women prevention that translated theory to practice by combining behavior change, communications and feminist theory into a methodology. Witnessing the challenges—and in some cases, backlash—in using “gender” and “rights” in programming, SASA! reframed violence prevention by using the language of power.

The provocative content—coupled with interactive, tested and ready-to-use materials—supports activist organizations in cultivating strong, meaningful relationships within their communities as they work together to change the norms that perpetuate violence against women.

Over the years, SASA! has been adapted and implemented in at least 30 countries by more than 75 organizations around the world. In 2012, the SASA! Study demonstrated that SASA! could help create community-level change, realizing its vision of safer communities for women by decreasing women’s risk of experiencing physical violence from their male partners by 52 percent.

Raising Voices has continued to evolve and adapt the SASA! approach in response to the unique needs of communities and to the growing field of violence prevention with SASA! Faith and SASA! Together.

SASA! Preventing Violence Around the World

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SASA! Basics

SASA! means “now” in Kiswahili and is an acronym for approach’s four phases: Start, Awareness, Support and Action. While SASA! has evolved over time, there are core components that remain consistent, supporting organizations and communities to explore concepts of power, violence and safety. Core components are:

A Gender-Power Analysis

Reflects Feminist Theory

Understanding men’s power over women as the root cause of violence against women and working explicitly to balance power in relationships and communities

A Phased-In Approach

Reflects the Transtheoretical Model

Working in four phases according to the stages of change: pre-contemplation in Start, contemplation in Awareness, preparation for action in Support, and action and maintenance in Action, with different objectives and content that evolve for every phase

Holistic Community Engagement

Reflects the Ecological Model and Diffusion of Innovation Theory

Building a critical mass of support by using multiple reinforcing strategies designed to reach community members at different levels of the circles of influence

Benefits-Based Activism

Reflects Social Movement and Social Norms Theories

Inspiring community members to take action based on their deep beliefs, with an emphasis on the positive benefits of non-violence rather than the negative consequences of violence

The Evolution of SASA!

Raising Voices is committed to rigorously learning and strengthening SASA! There are three main SASA! publications.

Featured Series
SASA! Together

Published in 2020, SASA! Together draws on a decade of learning, implementing and studying SASA! and other work in the violence prevention field for the latest community mobilization programming.

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SASA! Faith

Published in 2016 with Trócaire, SASA! Faith is designed to support religious institutions, primarily Muslim and Christian, to prevent violence against women within faith-based communities.

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Featured Series
Featured Series
SASA! Activist Kit

Published in 2008, the “original” SASA! was rigorously tested with a randomized controlled trial and widely used until 2020.

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FAQs all about SASA!

Is SASA! a curriculum?
Can I use SASA!?
How long does it take to implement?
Does Raising Voices provide technical assistance?
Will Raising Voices train my organization on SASA!?
Will Raising Voices fund my organization?
Can I just pick and choose a few activities from SASA!?
What impact will we have if my organization uses SASA!?
Is SASA! the first violence prevention methodology developed by Raising Voices?
Is SASA! a male-involvement approach?

SASA! is a community mobilization approach, not a curriculum. It uses multiple strategies and a variety of activities to work across the ecological model—or what we like to call the “circles of influence”—to engage individuals, couples and families; community leaders; and the groups and the institutions we all rely on.

SASA! works to create change at the community or population level—not only among those individuals directly involved in program activities.

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SASA! is available for free use by any community or organization. We believe this is important to build the field of violence prevention and to support positive social change.

However, over the years, some organizations have used SASA! in ways that are unsafe and could do harm to women. Therefore, to access all of SASA! Together, an organization or community needs to commit to safe and ethical use before materials can be downloaded.

If both your organization and Raising Voices are able to agree on a technical assistance partnership, we will co-develop a memorandum of understanding prior to beginning our work together.

Otherwise, we require all organizations and individuals who would like full access to the SASA! Together methodology to sign up and agree to basic terms of use that can ensure safe and ethical violence against women prevention programming. While we are committed to open access and use for all of our materials, some groups have used SASA! in ways that have compromised women’s safety and the principles of ethical violence against women prevention programming.

To determine whether you are ready to effectively implement SASA! Together, please take our Suitability and Readiness Assessment here.

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SASA! is a longer-term social norms change approach. It is not designed to be used for short campaigns or programming. We recommend at least three years to implement the SASA! Activist Kit, SASA! Faith or SASA! Together safely in communities.

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Yes! Raising Voices partners with organizations and provides ongoing technical support through a “cohort model.” This is when several organizations interested in using SASA! go through a series of trainings together and receive remote and on-site technical support over the duration of their programming.

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Raising Voices does not conduct one-off trainings for organizations. We have found this to be ineffective, costly and unsustainable. However, if you are interested in participating in a SASA! Together training, contact us and we will include you the next time we are planning a training as is feasible. Online training courses will soon be available to partner organizations.

We are also happy to have an initial discussion after you have reviewed the SASA! Together materials to help determine if the methodology is right for your organization.

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Raising Voices is not a funding agency. We are unable to provide funds for SASA! implementation.

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You can select specific activities or materials from SASA! However, you are not implementing the SASA! approach—meaning we cannot make any assumptions about impact. We caution groups against using SASA!’s provocative materials about power as stand-alone activities in communities. Working on violence against women is sensitive and requires support and care.

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Impact will vary based on the intensity of implementation, the capacity of the organization using SASA!, the community’s existing knowledge and openness about violence against women, the community’s political context and many other factors. You can learn about SASA!‘s impact in Ugandan communities here.

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No. Raising Voices published Mobilising Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Organisations in East and Southern Africa in 2003. SASA! builds on the resource guide and shares some key ideas while pioneering a new framework of power.

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SASA! engages women and men, boys and girls. We believe everyone in a community is needed and important in creating social change.

While there are single-sex activities to allow women and men to have space for reflection and discussion, we do not use the language of male involvement because we don’t want to make women invisible on an issue that affects them the most!

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