Using a nomination campaign to identify new potential allies for human rights

Domestic violence is an issue that affects the lives of men, women and children, yet it is often seen solely as a women’s issue. A group in South Africa uses a unique tactic to get men involved in curbing domestic violence.

The Everyday Hero Campaign of the 5-in-6 Project in South Africa asks women to identify men with a positive at­titude toward women and then invites these men to become new advocates for women’s rights.

The rate of violence against women in South Africa is among the highest in the world for all countries not at war. Re­search shows that one in six men abuses the woman in his life in South Africa. The 5-in-6 Project targets the other five men, those who do not abuse women. The project has developed the Everyday Hero campaign to find these men and involve them in the struggle. Volunteers go house to house to ask women for information about the good, positive men who live there. With nominations also sent by mail, more than 50,000 responses have identified the “best” fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers and male friends in the country. The names and recommendation forms decorate local churches, spreading awareness of the campaign and increasing its popularity.

Volunteers from this list of names are invited to meetings discussing “community problems,” and involving men of various ages, experiences, social classes and financial situations. Meetings focus on developing collaborative, nonviolent solutions to the problem of violence against women. Additional workshops help men understand the power relations between genders, build self-esteem and find positive ways to deal with difficult domestic situa­tions. Many participants have noticed dramatic changes in their level of consciousness about domestic violence, and in their ability to engage other men on the issue. For many, it is the first time they have ever spoken out on these issues and the result has been powerful.

By recognizing and honoring local male role models, the 5-in-6 project is able to connect with a cross-section of positive male role models in the community, engaging them to discuss and identify solutions to domestic vio­lence and to see that it is an underlying part of the other problems faced in their communities.

This nomination campaign helps identify “potential allies”—people who care about a particular issue but are not actively involved in it. They may be uninvolved because they don’t see it affecting them or simply because they have never had the opportunity to do so or because society has traditionally distanced them from the issue.

Once the 5-in-6 Project identifies these passive allies, it helps some of them become active allies and the effect grows: these active allies, given the necessary tools and information, talk to other men, creating more allies for women’s rights.

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.

What we can learn from this tactic: 
This tactic highlights the power of thinking outside the box when trying to identify new allies. In this case, the issue that the 5-in-6 problem is trying to solve is domestic abuse against women. To prevent men from committing domestic abuse, the organization formed alliances with men who are simply good people, who do not abuse women, and brought them into the conversation. By using men to educate other men about domestic abuse, the 5-in-6 project is tackling the issue in a creative and comprehensive way. 
Part of success of this tactic is the focus on the good rather than the bad. The project rewards and celebrates the men who are doing good. Instead of putting attention on the men who are abusing their families, they recognize the men who do not abuse their family. This could be seen as an incentive for other men to do good also. Since the organization utilizes a nomination process, there is a diverse range of men from all backgrounds and ages. By having variance in the discussion, many different perspectives and ideas are brought to light.  
This tactic could also be used with other tactics such as community education and outreach. When working on challenging issues, long-term tactics should be employed to increase chances of success. Such as early education programs for boys and girls that teach the right to mutual respect and safety. 
A key component of this tactic is forming allies. The nomination aspect allows women to identify the good men in their lives, therefore bringing into view new allies for the organization that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Being creative about how to find new allies will help broaden the reach of the organization. Allies are important tools for helping an organization further its mission. Allies can bring new ideas and perspectives, and introduce you to new potential allies.   
If you are unsure of who your allies are, or how to identify new allies, check out Step 3: Map the Terrain in our Strategy Toolkit for more information.