How Carole and Wissam are leading social change in their community

QUDWA, a Social Behavioural Change Communication Strategy, is addressing social norms that lead to violence against children and women and empowering communities to lead on change for children

UNICEF Lebanon
Carole, a beautician who was part of Qudwa training
UNICEF2022/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
13 April 2022

“Every day, I meet women who are either victims of domestic violence or live with it”, salon owner Carole says. Now, using her unique position in the heart of the community, she is helping people address harmful behaviours such as child marriage, child labour and violence against girls, boys and women.

Community influencer and role model for QUDWA, Carole says she’s thrilled and proud to be able to listen and talk to those who visit her salon in Aarsal town and give them life-changing ideas.

“It’s great to positively influence and help others. I’m very proud to help adjust some of the misinformation surrounding what are seen as social norms in society,” Carole insists.  

And it’s not only domestic violence that Carole is ready to respond to.

“Early marriages are widespread in this area. I’m now able to refer those cases to get more help,” she notes.

Carole is empowered by knowledge gained during training sessions with UNICEF partner, International Rescue Committee, and equipped to offer guidance and advice.

Beautician at her salon
UNICEF2022/Lebanon

In partnership with the European Union, under the framework of the QUDWA strategy, UNICEF is working with barbers and beauticians across Lebanon. Viewed by all as ‘safe spaces’, wide-ranging and often personal topics are routinely discussed within their unique customer relationships leading to change in the community.

Through UNICEF’s QUDWA strategy – a Social Behavioural Change Communication Strategy to address the social norms that lead to violence against children and women – UNICEF and the European Union are empowering local communities to lead on change for children.

"She taught me to say no to things I do not want, and I learned from her to ensure that my voice gets heard"

Community members at all levels of the community are empowered and equipped to support the prevention of child marriage, child labour and violence against girls, boys and women in their environment. QUDWA marks a new protection milestone for Lebanon’s children and most vulnerable women as it sets the foundation for community-based prevention and response child protection mechanisms – in the community.

Nineteen-year-old Nour has been visiting the salon for more than two years. Nour recalls when her parents had arranged for the teenager to marry her cousin. Unhappy with the decision, she essentially felt unable to influence.

Nour saw self-employed Carole as an ideal role model. “I appreciated her personality's strength, independence, and how she worked hard to create her own business.”

“Carole gave me a lot of advice and empowered me too. She taught me to say no to things I do not want, and I learned from her to ensure that my voice gets heard,” Nour reflects.

“She helped me see that I must continue at college because, with an education, I will be able to make my own life choices.”

Wissam cutting client's hair
UNICEF2022/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
Wissam, barber who participated in Qudwa trainings
UNICEF2022/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon

A barber living in Aarsal, Wissam is also a QUDWA role model. Of service to the town’s men for decades, Wissam runs a lively business at his salon on the main street. He’s witnessed many changes in the area.

“When I was growing up here, we certainly had no one outside our family to offer us advice,” he recalls. “We grew up the same as our fathers.”

“Today, through QUDWA, I’m proud that I can now share a different message. One of fairness, protection, and human rights,” Wissam says.

QUDWA represents the continuation of UNICEF’s journey to build an organic and community-based child protection and gender-based violence prevention system by capitalising on a collective interest in reducing violence in the community by focusing on the harmful impacts of child marriage, child labour, and violence.

UNICEF2022/Lebanon