i4Y Child Marriage and Youth Empowerment Group Speaker Series: Harnessing the power of social norms for improving global health. A case study from West Africa

Seminar | February 7 | 3:30-5 p.m. | 401 University Hall

 Ben Cislaghi, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

 Innovations for Youth (i4Y)

Harnessing the power of social norms for improving global health. A case study from West Africa.

Social norms are the unwritten rules in a group or society. They facilitate human interaction by clarifying what behaviour people can expect from others. They range from simple rules of etiquette (shake hands when you meet someone) to fundamental family or social duties (get married, find a respectable job). They can have powerful influence over people's health-related behaviour. In this talk, Ben Cislaghi will look at how social norms can affect behaviour, with the support of empirical evidence from both high and low-income countries (including a case study on child marriage in Cameroon). He will also discuss ethical models to facilitate change in harmful social norms, looking at the Community Empowerment Programme of the NGO Tostan in West Africa. His research on Tostan is also available in his most recent book: Human Rights and Community-Led Development (Edinburgh University Press)

About the Speaker: Dr Ben Cislaghi is Assistant Professor in Social Norms at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Centre for Gender, Health and Violence). Before joining the academia, he worked with NGOs, research institutions, and UN Organisations (including as the Director of Research and M&E in Senegal for the NGO Tostan, a leading NGO in the field of social norms change).

At the LSHTM he is gathering a community of experts on social norms and gender-related harmful practices, advancing existing understanding of how norms change and how that change can be measured. He is collaborating with various NGOs (Oxfam, Save the Children, World Education) and he's contributing to the Lancet special series on gender norms and health, the LINEA project on sexual exploitation, and several other international initiatives on social norms.

He is interested in how community-based responses can achieve change in social norms and reduction in gender-based violence, and in the role of social norms among other factors in influencing people’s actions. His second book, Human Rights and Community-led development, was published with EUP in January 2018.