Zimbabwe has an estimated 1.3 million people living with HIV with the third largest HIV burden in Southern Africa after South Africa and Mozambique. Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the epidemic. The link between HIV and Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is universally acknowledged; and community-based programming, such as SASA! to improve gender norms while also addressing violence against women remains critical. SASA! is a four phased intervention, whose acronym stands for the Start, Awareness, Support and Action phases. The intervention seeks to change community attitudes, norms and behaviours that result in men’s power over women. It was designed by Raising Voices in Uganda and now Zimbabwe is adopting the model. This power imbalance is conceptualised as the root cause of VAWG, which supports HIV risk related behaviours. SASA! challenges individuals and communities to think about their power and how their use of power affects their intimate partners, as well as their interactions with community members.
With support from UN Women, women’s rights organizations have continued to prioritise the adaptation and development of long-term, systematic strategies aimed at social norm change and helping community members through the stages of behaviour change. The Zimbabwe Country office is piloting the 4-phase SASA! Model for gender transformation in 3 districts (Mbire, Hopley Farm and Matobo) in partnership with HOCIC, SAYWHAT and Katswe Sistahood. SAYWHAT is implementing the project in Hopley Farm. The Start and Awareness phases have been implemented to date by SAYWHAT and is currently rolling out the Support phase. SASA! is part of UN Women’s support to the capacity building of women’s organisations to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate their own Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) and HIV programmes within the Spotlight Programme.