High gender-based violence (GBV) rates in Zambia calls for innovative and culturally appropriate approaches that resonate with, and appeal to, affected communities. The MORE Mobilising Access to Maternal Health Services in Zambia programme (MORE MAMaZ) integrated a focus on GBV into a community-based maternal health intervention. The programme trained Safe Motherhood Action Groups in Zambia to implement a ‘Zero Tolerance for GBV campaign’ alongside their other maternal and newborn health activities.
Maternal health, and specifically safe pregnancy and delivery, were used as an entry point to begin to address GBV. A strong focus on peer education proved an effective way to change social norms around the acceptability of GBV. Song proved an effective means of ensuring entire communities were aware of anti-GBV messages.
The programme’s gender empowerment approach created opportunities for community- wide reflection on disabling social and gender norms that affected women’s well-being and how these could change. The empowerment strategy created an enabling backdrop for the work on GBV, leading to where improvements in women’s and girls’ confidence to speak out and share their worries, challenging the taboos around GBV.
The MORE MAMaZ anti-GBV intervention led to a significant decline in violence against women in intervention communities, and more support for women affected by violence.