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Create an Epidemic of Safety

I am lucky to be a member of multiple groups, tribes, and communities of individuals. Some of these groups contain only a handful of people, some hundreds or more. I have noticed that even in groups where there is no pre-existing hierarchy or structure leaders or influencers inevitably emerge. Social network researchers like Nicholas Christakis have not only shown that positive health behaviors like happiness can spread through social networks, but we can use the structure of social networks to help spread behavior. Violence against women is most often perpetrated by men.

Photo of An Old Friend
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I am lucky to be a member of multiple groups, tribes, and communities of individuals. Some of these groups contain only a handful of people, some hundreds or more. I have noticed that even in groups where there is no pre-existing hierarchy or structure leaders or influencers inevitably emerge. 

Social network researchers like Nicholas Christakis have not only shown that positive health behaviors like happiness can spread through social networks, but we can use the structure of social networks to help spread behavior.

Violence against women is most often perpetrated by men.

According to social network research, if we identify the key influencers in a given group, we can use those influencers to champion norms that will, due to their status, change the behavior of other men.

But what does this look like? Unfortunately (or fortunately) changing behavior isn’t as simple as getting sick. Having a national leader condemn violence and champion safety isn’t enough.

How can we reach the male influencers living within the environments that women are mostly likely to be in danger? Who are these men? What are they thinking and feeling about violence against women in their communities? Perhaps if we can make the problem closer to home, their wives, their children, we can encourage these influencers to speak out in their communities and create an epidemic of safety.

“Men must teach each other that real men do not violate or oppress women – and that a woman’s place is not just in the home or the field, but in schools and offices and boardrooms.”

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

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Photo of Eugene Yap

I really like the idea of an "epidemic of safety".... There are many good projects on the ground to address the issue of women protection and empowerment... However, for these projects to spread and grow, it needs a "mode of contagion", a way to repeat itself and expand the scope easily and quickly. The key is providing a platform which will allow momentum to grow and ultimately explode once it passes the tipping point.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Eugene - definitely right. I was more thinking about this as a kind of lens to view the problem. You are definitely right - behavior doesn't spread like a virus where just one contact will do the trick.