Parents and caregivers empowered to support their communities

As twenty mothers from the local community near completing a three-month training period, they prepare to become advocates for children under the framework of UNICEF’s QUDWA Strategy

UNICEF Lebanon
Mothers from the local community
UNICEF2022/Fouad-Choufany/Lebanon
13 April 2022

As twenty mothers from the local community near completing a three-month training period, they prepare to become advocates for children under the framework of UNICEF’s QUDWA Strategy. A pioneering strategy, it aims to address the social norms that lead to harmful practices against children and women.

In partnership with the European Union, QUDWA seeks to tackle the social expectations that pressure caregivers to adopt harmful practices against children.

“I’ve become an example in my community”, comments Najwa. A mother of four children in Aarsal, she’s enthusiastic about being part of this initiative and how it will benefit families in the town.

"I have the confidence to explain this to parents and encourage them to support their child"

Feeling empowered by the caregivers toolbox developed under QUDWA to promote positive parenting practices and inspire caregivers to lead on change for children in their environments, Najwa reflects that “I have the confidence to explain this to parents and encourage them to support their child.”

Through the toolbox, UNICEF in partnership with the European Union, engages caregivers in child protection-focused parenting sessions by capitalising on a collective interest in reducing violence in the community and focusing on the harmful impacts of child marriage, child labour, and violence against girls, boys, and women. Caregivers learn to appreciate the complexity of children's needs, skills, emotions, and vulnerabilities from birth into adulthood. An increased sense of joint ownership and responsibility supports a new level of social expectations on QUDWA-promoted behaviours and helps reduce the fear of social sanctions for deviants of harmful practices.

A mother during qudwa training
Mothers attending the Qudwa training
Mothers participating in Qudwa training

QUDWA is owned by the people and is intended to empower men, women, adolescents, and community leaders who positively deviated from harmful practices and norms to lead on sustainable change in their communities.

Violence is too frequent within the community and often leads to retribution. Nour explains how the son of a close friend got involved in a neighbourhood fight. Badly beaten, she took him to hospital.

“No one wins when this happens”, reflects Nour. “So, when we left the hospital, I persuaded him to come with me to the home of his attacker. We sat together, talked about the issues that provoked the attack and, between them, they reconciled the situation.”

Hala recalls the change QUDWA has already inspired within herself and looks forward to lead on herself change for children in her community.

“Before taking part of these sessions, I used to be so shy. I could never have dreamed of offering anyone any life-changing advice - I couldn’t even speak to strangers. Look at me now!” she laughs.

Two woman standing in front of Qudwa poster
UNICEF2022/Lebanon

Over the past three months, Hala and other caregivers have been engaged on the toolbox and are now ready to transfer the knowledge they gained to their communities, thus inspiring other caregivers in their community to adopt better practices in favour of children’s wellbeing.

“The toolbox became a vessel of discovery for us,” explains Huwaida, one of the caregivers participating in the toolbox sessions. “For the first few weeks, every time it was opened, we discovered something new.”

Now, the items and the knowledge are familiar to the caregivers, precisely the way it should be – lessons learned. Soon, the group will be fully-equipped to deliver support – and QUDWA’s key messages – within their community.

“It’s wonderful to be part of the change,” says Nour. “And where better to see community change evolving from than within the community itself?”

UNICEF2022/Lebanon
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This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union.

Its contents are the sole responsibility of UNICEF and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.