June 26, 2017 | 12:30 pm | Courtney J. McLarnon-Silk, Program Officer, @cjmclarnon
“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” –Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015   The Value: Why a norms-focused community of practice? We know that social norms—the often unspoken rules that govern behavior—shape the trajectories of young people. The impact of harmful social norms, such as expectations related to gender-based violence, early marriage and early parenthood, is receiving increasing attention. The Passages Project is committed to advancing implementation, evaluation and scale-up of social norms programs, with ongoing activities in DRC, Niger and Senegal. However, Passages recognizes the need to expand the reach of our regional learning beyond these countries and engage new partners around the world. With support from USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Office, Passages formed two regional Communities of Practice (CoPs)—one in Francophone Africa and one in South Asia—on the scale-up of normative change for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health. The purpose of the CoPs is to focus regionally on advancing knowledge sharing, collaboration, practice, and advocacy around social norms transformation among individuals, researchers, organizations, projects, and donors aiming to improve adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health outcomes at scale. The CoPs will provide a platform for building knowledge and capacity, fostering supportive professional networks across sectors, and sharing emerging evidence and promising practices. The CoPs will also advocate for investment in the expansion of adolescent and youth normative interventions.   What’s next Beginning in March and April, Passages put out a call for interested participants in both regions, and received an overwhelming response. Over 200 people expressed interest in joining the CoPs, confirming a great need for collaboration and sharing around the topic of norms and AYSRH. Kick-off events are planned for Francophone Africa’s CoP in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Asia’s CoP in  Kathmandu, Nepal. At these launch meetings, participants will come together to collaborate with like-minded stakeholders, and learn from each others’ experiences and ideas. The CoP will also prioritize key topic areas and needs in their region related to social norm change and scale up of normative interventions. After the launch, members will take forward individual or group work plans in line with goals set during the meeting. Regularly, members will reconvene via online discussions hosted on HC3’s Springboard platform, sharing knowledge and progress on specific commitments. After a year, a capstone meeting will bring members together again in person to reflect on learnings and CoP activities, synthesizing lessons learned and developing recommendations for the future sustainability of the regional CoP. Together, members of the CoP will continue to work as regional champions to advance normative change for adolescent sexual and reproductive health.   Learn more about Passages’ Regional Communities of Practice — Passages, led by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University in partnership with FHI 360, JHU’s Global Early Adolescent Study, PSI, Save the Children and Tearfund, aims to address a broad range of social norms, at scale, to achieve sustained improvements in family planning and sexual and reproductive health. This research project is building the evidence base and contributing to the capacity of the global community to strengthen normative environments that support positive family planning and sexual and reproductive health, especially among very young adolescents, newly married couples, and first-time parents. Check out more here.  
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Posted In: Projects, Passages Project, Family Planning, Adolescents
June 14, 2017 | 11:29 am | Aubrey Weber, FHI 360
[Originally posted on the PSI Impact blog here.] Instances of early pregnancy, gender-based and intimate partner violence, and child marriage are an unfortunate reality for millions of women. In many settings, sustained improvements in family planning and sexual and reproductive health will only be obtained by addressing the social norms—unspoken rules that govern behavior—that inhibit family planning access and use.
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Posted In: Projects, Passages Project, Adolescents, Gender Equality
Marta Pirzadeh, MPH, is Senior Technical Officer in Research Utilization at FHI 360. She has over fifteen years of experience in the public health field with a primary focus on youth, maternal and infant health, HIV prevention, and sexual and reproductive health programming. The quintessential question “why reinvent the wheel?” can be applied to many global health and development problems. Sometimes the phrase is used when activities are perceived as duplicating something that already exists, when in reality, the activities may possess additional value. Sometimes ideas are re-packaged or enhanced to meet current demands and new evidence. As global health and development professionals, we improve outcomes by scaling up what we know works—not “reinventing the wheel,” but building a better wheel. The better wheel is based on an existing framework, evidence, and lessons learned. Can we say the same for scaling up normative change interventions?
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Posted In: Projects, Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change, Adolescents