TOWARDS A GENDER EQUITABLE SOCIETY

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April 3, 2022

Search for Common Ground (Search) in partnership with ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality (ABAAD) implemented the UK AID DIRECT-funded project “Towards a Gender-Equitable Society” in Lebanon. The 12-month project that closed in June 2022 aimed at breaking gender stereotypes and helping reduce sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including intimate partner violence and child marriage. To do so, ABAAD and Search worked on:

  1. Improving the access to and delivery of quality SGBV prevention and response services through ABAAD’s Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS) program, Mid-Way Houses (MWH), and the Mobile Unit Interventions.
  2. Shifting the cultural and social norms related to SGBV and traditional gender norms through a media component.

CONTEXT

Current political, economic, and health crises have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in Lebanese and non-Lebanese residents facing the most difficult period they have seen since the end of the Lebanese Civil War (1990). Social isolation, drug abuse, suicide, and limited access to basic needs, educational and social services like healthcare and protection are common now, especially for vulnerable and marginalized groups such as youth, refugee women and children, migrant domestic workers, the LGBTQI+ community, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Interpersonal relationships, both familial and social, are also deteriorating due to increases in domestic violence, cyber-violence, and SGBV. Consequently, and to help in reducing SGBV, improved access to quality SGBV prevention and response services shall be done in close partnership with existing national and governmental frameworks to ensure the sustainability of the national system for SGBV prevention and response.

Moreover, and since the media is one of the main channels through which public opinion is formed, it is responsible not only for bringing attention to the issues facing women, girls, and vulnerable and marginalized groups but also for influencing public opinion on matters like gender and violence. The role of media in defining and reinforcing social norms is significant in Lebanon as in any other place, and minor shifts in narratives of television programming and films may open the door to broader changes in attitudes and perceptions, leading to an enabling environment for community members to be able to discuss violence openly, better understand pathways for reporting violence, and engage an audience of millions in a social shift on public discourses on SGBV.

APPROACH

IF the access to quality SGBV services is improved through the provision of SGBV response and prevention services at the WGSS centers, MWHs, and the mobile unit interventions, AND if gender stereotypes are broken through media, THEN an enabling environment will be created in which the perceptions and attitudes of women, men, boys and girls around violence against women and girls (VAWG) and SGBV and the social norms around these will be shifted.

This was achieved through the implementation of these key activities:

  1. Provision of SGBV prevention and response services at ABAAD’s WGSS centers and MWHs including immediate safe-housing, crisis counseling, case management, information on legal rights, psychosocial support, referrals for the provision of welfare, and social services, income assistance, and access to resources.
  2. Implementation of Mobile Unit Interventions that focus on 1) raising awareness on and sharing information about women and girls’ legal rights in case of violence, and 2) mental health and psychosocial support activities organized regularly using various art-based techniques (drama therapy; dance therapy; expression through art; healing through art; drawing/painting; sculpture; support group; self-defense, etc.)
  3. Training on Gender and SGBV & Media for Social Change Workshops for screenwriters, producers, and film students followed by coaching and mentoring sessions and field visits to ABAAD’s centers.
  4. Production of gender-sensitive short films and mini-series

CHANGE ACHEIVED

  1. Women, girls, and other right holders benefiting from quality SGBV prevention and response services are more aware of issues related to SGBV and show increased self-worth, self-esteem, and life management skills and techniques.
  2. Media professionals are more aware of issues related to SGBV and show increased capacity in producing programming and films that tackle the complexities of VAWG, supports and normalizes reporting mechanisms, and reduces stigma around survivors of SGBV


Snapshots & Success Stories

Search Short Film Festival Breaks Stigma And Opens Up A Safe Space For Dialogue Around Gender And Sexual And Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)

In celebration of the closing of the project, Search organized a short film festival to screen to the wider public the films that the youth champions have worked on under this project. The five gender-sensitive short films tackle various topics related to violence against women and girls (VAWG), SGBV, and masculinities.

Mainstreaming Gender In Lebanese Media By Training Media Professionals On Creating Media For Social Change

Alarming rates of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) have been recorded in Lebanon in the past few years due to the deteriorating economical, political, and health situations. Despite the essential impact that the media can have in enabling an environment where social norms around SGBV can be shifted, the Lebanese media still plays a role of spoilers of peaceful coexistence between different genders, fails to present realistic and nuanced situations of VAWG, and peddle gender-based stereotyped versions. A baseline study conducted by Search for Common Ground (Search) with 21 media professionals and film students shows that despite the high levels of higher education of the media professionals, 52% of them were not aware of most of the gender-related terms, and 76% were not familiar with the guidelines and principles of creating gender-sensitive media products.

 

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