Technical brief: Social Norms

0. Thematic brief - Social norms.pdf

A number of structural inequalities and harmful practices are associated with increased HIV vulnerability. The concept of social norms provides a way to understand what sustains these practices and structures. By addressing problematic norms, it is possible to challenge these structures and thus reduce HIV risk.

Social norms, especially gender-related social norms, can sustain harmful practices and unjust relations, with serious effects on people's health. Gender-related social norms define what is expected of a woman and a man in a given group or society; they are both embedded in institutions and nested in people's minds. They play a role in shaping women's and men's (often unequal) access to resources and freedoms, thus affecting women's and men's voice, agency and power.

Empirical evidence suggests that social norms influence various health-related actions, such as:

  • drinking alcohol
  • condom use
  • child marriage
  • sexual violence
  • intimate partner violence

Structural drivers of HIV are influenced by (and influence) social norms. The STRIVE consortium examines the ways in which norms intersect with other drivers and health-related issues in low and middle-income countries to increase the risk of HIV infection.

This brief presents key findings and supportive evidence from STRIVE and beyond, as well as helpful definitions and an assesment of impact.


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