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Practical Tools for Practitioners: Unravelling Power Dynamics as a Prelude to Preventing Violence Against Women and Children
  • Kate McAlpine
Kate McAlpine
Citizens 4 Change

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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This paper explores how to employ effective, community-engaged strategies to understand and address the underlying power asymmetries that fuel violence against women and children. Utilising Participatory Action Research and underpinned by Integral Activist Epistemology, the action research adopts a novel approach combining Theory U and Powercube frameworks to facilitate a comprehensive understanding and transformation of these power relations in Shinyanga district, Tanzania.
The paper describes the journey of engaging the community in identifying and challenging the unwritten rules that perpetuate violence. Key to this process is the recognition of violence as a manifestation of deeply ingrained patriarchal power structures, which are sustained through coercion and social exclusion, yet paradoxically fragile due to the pain these norms inflict on the whole community, including men. This understanding leads to the development of practical, community-led interventions, or ‘prototypes’, aimed at reshaping these dynamics.
Key messages from the action research highlight the critical role of local context in shaping interventions, the importance of reframing existing cultural practices so that they are more inclusive, and the necessity for long-term commitment from development actors for sustainable change. The implications extend beyond Shinyanga, offering insights for practitioners globally. This paper contributes to the academic discourse on violence prevention but also serves as a practical guide, providing tools and strategies for practitioners working towards creating safer, more inclusive communities.