Shifting Harmful Social Norms
Date published: June 28, 2023
Every society has a set of social norms - many, largely unwritten, rules that traditionally define acceptable and appropriate behaviors for its members. For some societies, social norms have evolved over generations to adapt to shifting community values; however, some are still restrictive and confining, especially when it comes to women's roles, opportunities and behaviors.
For example, in many parts of the world, women's opinions and expertise are valued less than those of men. Women are told they are not as capable or knowledgeable as men, particularly when it comes to using new technologies, and that their morals would be endangered by exposure to the Internet. When girls and women have heard this enough, they begin to believe it themselves.
USAID's WomenConnect Challenge (WCC) works to address and promote positive social norms to help women navigate and harness the opportunities of digital technologies. Addressing and shifting social norms is not a quick process and takes time, as these behaviors and the beliefs they represent are deeply held, rooted in strong family and cultural traditions.