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The Soldiers for Sisters Movement

Changing the perception of men as the adversary by co-opting the good ones to rally and raise their voice for the cause. Using big brands and existing social/community groups to multiply the reach for the cause..

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***UPDATED ON 29th Mar (with input from comments)***

ADDED: Image sketch of the campaign overview with the key stakeholders, their roles and incentives for participation.

An overview of the (RED) initiative for those who are unfamiliar  here
This idea is built around the opportunity area of Challenging Gender Norms and Expectations

Let's try to move away from the negative re-inforcing of gender stereotypes. There are countless men out there who care and are prepared to act in support for the women. Why don't we harness the power of this group to subdue the would-be-attackers and build a sense of safety and security for the women

Building on the Gillette Soldiers Wanted campaign: (Contribute your suggestions in the comments please)
  • One of the biggest strength of the big FMCG brands, is their product line. Would love to see if they can bring in advertising to their packaging (think of cigarette packs but with positive behavior reinforcing images this time instead of gory images) lines or to the store fronts they sell their products in. There were a number of ideas shared in the research phase which highlighted the importance of behavior change at a subconscious level. An example here
  • Raising awareness for the public through social media/TV Ads is a good first step. The real impact however depends on how far the campaign can extend to the grassroots because the likely attackers are more likely to be your under-educated, unemployed youth in sub-urban/rural areas than the metrosexual men in the cities. 
  • Brands can and should move away from trying to get just social media eyeballs, to actually scaling up their grassroots program involvement. Instead of social media targets, brands can set targets such as # of workshops run, # of men-at-risk reached, # of sustained engagements, etc 
  • Working with NGOs is a great step, but can we multiply the reach by roping in other associations/groups where men congregate - higher secondary schools, unis, sports grounds, fan clubs, etc 
The Business Case for brands to participate (Contribute your suggestions in the comments please)
  • Starting a movement for this cause equivalent to that which Bono championed for AIDS in Africa through Product (RED) can drive business growth through increased sales and stronger customer loyalty. 
  • An alternative is to consider the TOMS Shoes 1 for 1 model, in which every single product which is purchased, contributes to a women empowerement initiative of a partnering NGO.
  • By building a partnership with communities targeting the youth in remote areas, brands also build outreach channels and brand exposure in hard to reach areas, which provides opportunities for direct customer feedback, new product testing, building customer engagement and importantly driving sales.
Symbols of Support (Contribute your suggestions in comments please)
  • Can we bring in visual identifiers which can help the "soldiers" recognize each other? In India, we have the Rakshabandhan festival in which sisters tie of threads called Rakhis to the wrists of their brothers and male friends they consider brotherly. Can we make special Rakhis to identify the soldiers ?
  • Should we promote special badges/pins for these "soldiers"?
Soldiers for Self-Defense (Contribute your suggestions in comments please)
  • As part of the campaign, the male soldiers could train the women in the art of self-defence through training classes
  • As part of self-defense curriculum, the women could also have alarm triggers - a loud noise alarm, a quick dial number, a self-defense weapon, etc

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Community level social support groups of reliable, trusted men who will stand-up for and help women in need backed by big brands.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

1) The lack of a strong peer-pressure based deterrent for would-be-attackers and 2) Helping women build trust and a sense of safety 3) Getting the big brands to rally around the cause in a more sustainable manner.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

1) Women will start feeling a sense of safety and more importantly build trust with the communities they live in 2) The potential attackers will be subdued and might even be possibly reformed (if we can institutionalise such programs with the Soldiers for Sisters community) Success can be monitored by the decrease in the number of attacks against women in those particular communities and the number of communities which adopt the movement. Also,Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) could be run to measure the impact of each grassroots initiative.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

The social support groups and women empowerment groups already doing strong work in the community would be the obvious first choice. It would be great if brands like Gillette, Unilever, etc could also get behind this campaign as they would bring a much stronger visibility and financial muscle behind the movement. But for a start, it can be championed by an NGO to demonstrate the potential

Where should this idea be implemented?

High risk, vulnerable areas with high incidences of women's violence

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

Identify specific men community groups - fan clubs, sports groups, schools, polytechnics, local colleges. Build a fraternity of Soldiers for Sisters. Then, spread the message in the local community with the support of figures of authority.


Join the conversation:

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Great idea and insightful discussion! Through and beyond the support through self defence sessions your contribution aims to leverage civil courage. Your model could be turned in a self-sustaining movement when at risk people having benefitted from support start to share back, not at last to extend concept to include female strengths.

Please have a look at the Crowdguard project - we aim to reinvent the geo-based smart phone alarm app for low- and no- feature phone users. We call it civil courage 2.0.

We would love to collaborate in sharing insights and technology on how to lower the bystander rate in providing help to at risk people., I would love to hear your feedback.

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