Communication for Development
Promoting the rights of children through positive behaviour and social change
In Uganda individual behaviour remains deeply rooted in social norms and cultural practices that vary from region to region. At the same time, religion permeates every aspect of Ugandan life; it provides a framework for personal conduct, an established view on family life and organized communal activities. Hence, individual behaviour often needs to be negotiated within the larger socio-cultural environment.
In the past several years, a rich compendium of research on knowledge, attitudes and practices and the underlying social norms has been conducted across different sectors in Uganda.
In health, for example, many pregnant women do not comprehend the importance of antenatal care visits unless they fall ill. This contributes to less than half of all pregnant women attending the recommended four or more antenatal care sessions.
Deep-rooted beliefs in herbs as part of pregnancy care; decision-making as a male prerogative for seeking and choice of care; influence from older mothers; and the fear of preparing for the unborn whose viability is considered uncertain are some of the cultural and traditional barriers to maternal and child care.
Uganda’s high malnutrition rates are driven by social norms and practices that include giving newborns porridge, milk, bean soup, tea or alcohol when the family believes the child’s mother does not have breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding is also impacted by gender norms. Women find it difficult to continue exclusive breastfeeding because they do not have male support for child care and other chores.
In education, girls face many gendered risks during their schooling. Dropout due to pregnancy or early marriage, poor-quality teaching, sexual harassment in schools, or parental preference for boys’ education, particularly at secondary level, are realities for many girls. Despite being outlawed, corporal punishment in schools is very common.
Every week the group goes out to the community and performs dances and drama to show families the importance of nutrition. We believe change can happen when we join hands as a community to combat the poor health of children in our communities.
UNICEF is focusing its communication for development (C4D) efforts on two multi-sectoral flagship areas of early childhood development and adolescence, through the following Interventions:
• Conducting research on key knowledge, attitudes and practices among individuals and communities in health, nutrition, education and child protection.
• Providing technical and financial support to develop and roll out national C4D strategies.
• Developing evidence-based multimedia materials on key family care practices and the underlying social and cultural norms.
• Building capacity and partnerships with parents, caregivers, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations and others to roll out key family care practices.
• Mobilizing, strengthening and revitalizing community-based structures such as mothers’ support groups, adult literacy groups, savings groups, youth groups etc. to scale up early childhood and adolescent development family care practices.
• Supporting innovative approaches to reach adolescents and children through entertainment, sport, music, dance and drama.
By 2020, national capacity to plan, implement, monitor and coordinate evidence-based C4D strategies will be enhanced to protect children’s rights through positive behaviour and social change. At least 10 sector-specific plans with communication strategies will be in place and 23 priority districts will be implementing integrated C4D plans that follow the life cycle approach.