Revising the Script: Taking Community Mobilization To Scale For Gender Equality

Publication year


Publication Author

Brian Heilman and Shawna Stich

This brief exploratory study aims to inform the nascent conversation about the challenges of applying the “innovate, evaluate, scale up” script in one compelling field of recent innovation: community mobilization approaches to address socially and politically sensitive issues, particularly but not exclusively intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence, for instance, is different in important ways from many other development and human rights challenges. This form of violence rest upon unequal power among the genders, and the central importance of power to this challenge makes preventing this violence more of a political issue than, for instance, eradicating polio. If ending intimate partner violence almost certainly requires transforming historic and deeply held social norms and power structures, what exactly does “scale up” mean? Who could or should undertake it?

The authors of this report set out to answer three guiding research questions at the heart of these dilemmas, with
a balance of literature review and conversations with programmers who had faced similar challenges:

  1. How have implementers of community mobilization initiatives attempted to “scale up” their efforts to shift attitudes about intimate partner violence and other socially and politically sensitive issues?
  2. To what extent have any such approaches achieved success and effectiveness in “scaling up”
    to a national, regional, or international level?
  3. What are the most salient obstacles, challenges,and lessons that have emerged from priorefforts to take these community mobilization approaches to scale?