Social media games battle gender stereotypes in Nepal

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Our work will primarily target young people between 13-19 years of age, as research shows that adolescents are still forming their attitudes at this age. Photo: UNDP

The problem with social norms is that even the most conscientious of citizens often stop questioning them.

They simply perpetuate.

Across South Asia, and in Nepal in particular, despite major strides in women’s economic empowerment in the past decade, gender stereotypes, domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence still continue to cripple society. According to a 2012 study, more than half of Nepali women experience violence in their lifetime.

One way to fight these stereotypes and end gender-based violence is to swap roles so that men can experience what it feels like to walk in a woman’s shoes.

At UNDP Nepal, we’re building on that premise as we look to tackle the high levels of violence against women in Nepali society. Behavior change is easier said than done, so we’ve decided to try and break the chain of violence by focusing on young people and their willingness to question social norms. 

Here’s our gambit: we’ve designed an online interactive quiz for Facebook that turns how young people view gender roles in society inside-out and back-to-front.

Six short animated videos, each followed by multiple-choice questions, depict situations where traditional roles have been inverted so as to raise the user’s awareness of their own potential prejudices and stereotypes.

One scenario projects men being harassed by female passengers on a public bus. When several of the men complain about how harassment is commonplace on public buses, the women retort, “if it is so difficult for you to tolerate chance physical encounters in crowded spaces, you should have a private vehicle or hire a cab.”

We will have six such animated videos, each one focused on a particular form of violence such as harassment, domestic violence, political violence and sexual violence. These will be launched through UNDP’s social media channels and, to reach out to a larger audience, we plan to launch a publicity campaign (radio announcements, links on main newspaper websites, etc.) to mobilize participation among youth.

We’re excited that in the first week of preparation, we have already formed a partnership with the University of Chicago Gaming Lab, to draw upon their technical expertise in the design of the gaming framework that incorporates the animated videos and quiz questions in an interesting package.

Can you think of photos and videos that switch gender roles or create empathy to help us fight against gender violence? Let us know what you think.