One Man Can (OMC) Campaign

One Man Can (OMC) Campaign – Be inspired

In a nutshell

The One Man Can (OMC) Campaign encourages men to become actively involved in advocating for gender equality, preventing gender-based violence (GBV), and responding to HIV and AIDS. Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) supports men in achieving this by helping them change their belief on gender norms, taking an active stand against domestic and sexual violence, and sustaining these changes in their personal lives – all of which contribute to reducing the rapid spread of HIV.

What we do

The OMC Campaign strengthens community mobilisation and conducts public awareness activities to educate communities on prevention and response to GBV and HIV. These activities include:

  • In-depth OMC workshops for community leaders on GBV.
  • Training of Community Action Team (CAT) members to use their new-found knowledge from the workshops to educate their communities.
  • Door-to-door awareness campaigns.
  • Painting murals in communities.
  • Acting ambush theatre.
  • Using taxis, through branding/stickers and thought-provoking messages in a language that is appealing, relatable and educational.
  • Rallying mass public events on key dates like Women’s Month, Youth Day, and 16 Days of Activism on Gender Violence to educate communities on GBV and HIV.
  • Organisation of seminars on GBV and disabilities.
  • Soccer tournaments.

The campaign also seeks to provide training and technical assistance to partner organisations to strengthen their capacity to engage men and boys in the prevention of GBV and HIV at community level.

How we do it

The OMC Campaign was launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town on 25 November 2006 to mark the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. A few days later, another OMC Campaign launch was held in Geneva at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) headquarters.

The campaign promotes the idea that each one of us has a role to play, that each one of us can create a better, more equitable and more just world. At the same time, the campaign encourages men to work together with other men and with women to take action – to build a movement, to demand justice, to claim our rights and to change the world.

The OMC has a number of projects. These projects include 1) HIV digital stories; 2) One Man Can toolkit; 3) Fatherhood  project; 4) OMC Access to Justice project; 5) OMC Klipfontein Health Project; 6) OMC Prisons Project; 7) OMC Refugee Health and Rights Project; 8) OMC Male Circumcision project; 9) OMC Soccer Project; and 10) One Man Can Community Mobilisation and Randomised Control Trial in Bushbuckridge.

1. HIV digital stories
​Crucial to the success of Sonke’s work is ensuring a central role for those most directly affected by violence and HIV. A platform is required for their voices to inform our efforts and be represented across Sonke activities.

We all have stories to tell about our lives. Through sharing and listening to such stories, we come to know each other, our communities, our world, and ourselves. Stories can inspire us, educate us, and move us deeply. As a result of being touched by someone else’s story, we make connections between their circumstances and our own. When it comes to confronting complex social issues, these connections can help us to bridge the vast differences that often divide us and instead act with wisdom, compassion, and conscience.

Sonke Gender Justice and the Silence Speaks digital storytelling initiative enables young people and adults affected by violence and HIV and AIDS to share their stories. From cities to rural villages, the project offers participants a rare opportunity to talk about their own experiences and bear witness to the lives of others, in a supportive setting. Through intensive, participatory video production workshops, we are bringing rarely-heard voices and images into the civic arena. Our hope is that by highlighting everyday stories, we will deepen existing conversations about gender norms and the spread of these twin epidemics.

2. One Man Can toolkit 
The OMC toolkit is a set of resources that support men and boys to take action to end domestic and sexual violence and to promote healthy, equitable relationships that men and women can enjoy – passionately, respectfully and fully.

The toolkit resources include:

3. Fatherhood project
This project celebrates men who care by profiling South African fathers in the local media. My Dad Can forms part of the international MenCare campaign being spearheaded by MenEngage. It is a national media drive to identify positive local role models and profile them in the media as examples of good, involved fathers, funded by First National Bank and First for Women.

Through the media campaign, radio listeners and print media readers will learn about the day-to-day experiences of these everyday heroes, as well as learning about why involved fatherhood is so important and what the benefits of involved fatherhood are for fathers, mothers and children.

The idea is to change the important things a dad can do from just being strong or violent to being caring and supportive. ‘My dad can lift a car!’ moves to ‘My dad can cook!’

Starting in mid-2011, the first leg of the campaign took place up until the end of 2011. This included the first round of nominations, selection and media profiling of local fathers. Activities involved a series of radio Public Service Announcements through partner radio stations across 10 sites and posters which encouraged children to nominate their fathers and write up a brief essay on why they thought their dad, or the man that cares for them, should be recognized.

In 2012, a second round of nominations, selection and media profiling took place in another 10 communities. In June 2012, a fatherhood celebration was held in Johannesburg. The 20 local heroes profiled in the media during the previous year were flown to Johannesburg with their families to participate in a high profile gala event. The fathers who inspired others in their communities were celebrated.

4. OMC Access to Justice project
Sonke and the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme have partnered to support victim empowerment in Limpopo province, and especially to include men and boys in advocacy and support initiatives. The project is supported by Irish Aid.

5. OMC Klipfontein Health Project
Sonke has been funded by the Western Cape Department of Health to raise awareness and promote health services to men in the Klipfontein district. This includes raising awareness about HIV and AIDS and the related services available in the area, such as counselling and testing.

In early 2012, Sonke launched a new satellite office in Gugulethu, a Men’s Wellness Centre, where men can receive information and advice about health issues, including access to a clinic sister. The satellite office is conveniently situated close to the Gugulethu clinic.

The team are also raising awareness about medical male circumcision (MMC) and encouraging men to undergo circumcision as a means of reducing the risk of contracting HIV. MMC education includes discussions about the potential gender implications of MMC and emphasises that men who are circumcised still need to practice safe sex.

During their visits to clinics, schools, places of worship and other civil society organisations in the communities, the Sonke staff distribute male and female condoms, as well as various educational materials.

Once a week, staff members participate in a two-hour radio talk show where issues relevant to the community are discussed on Radio Zibonele.

The Klipfontein team also recruit and train peer educators in the community and setup Community Action Teams to support the groups’ ongoing work in the area.

6. OMC Prisons Project
The Prisons project works with prisoners in the Western Cape on issues of health, offering training, hosting events and collaborates with the provincial Department of Correctional Services.

Prisons across the country are host to distressingly high numbers of HIV-infected people, and corruption of prison officials, violence, gangs and rape are rife in correctional facilities. It is well-known that the rate of recidivism is high and that prison sentences do not do much in the way of correcting the behaviour of the convicted, and often worsen the condition of ex-prisoners’ lives. For these reasons and more, Sonke decided to implement a project that focuses explicitly on improving the health-seeking behaviours of prisoners in local correctional facilities. The project is a couple of years old now and has expanded to work with both male and female inmates in 12 prisons.

Both inmates and correctional officers are trained as peer educators to act as leaders within their prison community, providing support, education and an example of healthy living to their counterparts. Health areas covered by the project include education on anal and cervical cancer, TB, diarrhoea, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections. All peer educator groups are continually supported by Sonke’s prisons team, who run frequent follow-up workshops. One focus of the project is to reduce HIV infection rate through HCT and Treatment Adherence programmes.

7. OMC Refugee Health and Rights Project
Sonke’s work with refugees and migrants focuses on a) addressing the specific gender and HIV vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants, b) challenging xenophobia and the frequent violations of rights faced by refugees and migrants, and c) advocating for access to vital health and social services. Currently, Sonke implements the Refugee Health and Rights (RHR) Programme in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The work includes conducting HIV prevention and gender workshops with groups of refugees while also discussing issues pertaining to refugee rights. We also distribute male and female condoms to refugees and share HIV prevention messages at Department of Home Affairs premises, in appropriate languages.

The RHR team also conducts workshops and activities in schools. Sonke has been supported in its work with refugees by UNHCR, Foundation for Human Rights and UNFPA.

8. OMC Male Circumcision project
Sonke strongly supports medical male circumcision (MMC) as a measure for preventing HIV transmission. This position is informed by the increasing body of evidence which shows that MMC can reduce the changes of infection by as much as 60%.

With this in mind, Sonke runs a small project to promote MMC amongst urban young men in South Africa. The project is being carried out in partnership with Artists Proof Studios (APS).

The Sonke team work with the APS students to develop a series of messages and imagery to use to promote MMC. A range of creative channels are being explored to distribute these messages, including comic strips, social media, radio and television. Face-to-face interactions with young men are also taking place at clinics and schools, and in the form of community dialogues.

The project is funded by the South African Development Fund.

9. OMC Soccer Project
As part of our commitment to strengthening the capacity of partner organisations, Sonke is working closely with three organisations in the Soweto and Alexandra townships of Johannesburg to host a series of soccer tournaments that are accompanied by Sonke trainings. The project aims to increase these organisations’ skills and scope in working with men and boys on gender equality and HIV and AIDS. The project is funded by Oxfam GB and has been running since 2007.

Sonke is currently (2011/2012) running a Street Soccer tournament with each organisation. Training programmes have been developed for working with the participating soccer teams. At least seven teams of seven players take part, and the public receive educational and awareness materials at the event. Influential figures, health care providers, community leaders and others are invited to attend the tournaments and address the players and the public on a variety of issues.

Over the period, we work with the partners to coordinate events and other smaller projects like mural painting, as well as building their capacity to independently undertake such projects in the future.

10. One Man Can Community Mobilisation and Randomised Control Trial in Bushbuckridge
From 2012 - 2014, Dumisani Rebombo ran the One Man Can (OMC) project at Sonke’s satellite office in Bushbuckridge (BBR). Sonke’s OMC project in BBR, formed part of a three-year randomised control trial (RCT) undertaken by Sonke, the University of Witwatersrand, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)’s Centre for AIDS Prevention Studies, and the University of North Carolina (UNC). This formed part of a sub-study of a primary study, dubbed the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). The RCT sought to evaluate the extent to which Sonke’s OMC community mobilisation (CM) model could reduce levels of violence and ultimately reduce the levels of HIV infection amongst young women.

Prior to conducting this RCT, male-focused community social mobilisation efforts that aim to create safer spaces for young women had not been rigorously evaluated. This ground-breaking study provided an opportunity to examine the process and effects of a CM intervention focused on young men (aged 18-35), while also providing an opportunity to examine the effects of the mobilisation intervention in general.

The community comprises 25 villages. For this evaluation, half of the communities (11) were randomised to receive the community mobilisation interventions, while the 11 other communities served as comparison communities. Community mobilisation activities included workshops, door-to-door campaigns, soccer matches, street theatre, murals, video screenings, discussions led by a trained team of community mobilisers and volunteers, and a vibrant Community Action Team (CAT) model. All 25 villages were monitored for incidences of GBV including rape, HIV prevalence, health-seeking behaviours including self-reported habits of condom use, and more. This provided empirical evidence of OMC’s effect on behaviour change and its impact within communities by comparing statistics between the trial and control groups.

The primary objectives of the project were as follows:

  • To determine whether young people, aged 18-35, living in villages that are randomised to a mobilisation intervention focused on young men, demonstrate positive changes in gender norms compared with young people living in villages that are not randomised to mobilisation.
  • To determine whether young women who are randomised to receive cash transfers, conditional on school attendance, and who live in villages that are receiving the mobilisation intervention targeting young men to change gender norms, have lower incidence of HIV and HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2) over time, compared with young women who are not receiving either of these interventions.

The goals of the community mobilisation aspect of this project were to equip and motivate community members both to prevent HIV, gender inequality and GBV, and to intervene when they identify violence in their communities. Because the specific needs and social structures of each community differ from place to place, mobilisers and Community Action Teams (CAT) underwent training and education in navigating these structures to most effectively and sensitively implement the campaign in their areas.

Ongoing training provided CAT members with a wide range of relevant skills and knowledge, including reporting, networking, health education, refugee and migrants’ rights and advocacy on local platforms.

On average, the project reached and educated over 48,000 people per year with OMC campaign interventions since it started in 2012. A baseline survey was conducted in 2012 and the end-line survey began at the end of 2014. The preliminary analysed outcomes of this RCT, as well as an illustrative case study can be found here:

What we have achieved

The intended outcomes of the OMC Campaign include:

  • Improved awareness and knowledge among community members – particularly men – on the impact of GBV and their increased commitment and skills to address it.
  • Increased capacity of Sonke partner organisations to implement the OMC Campaign independently in their communities and to fully integrate OMC activities into their existing and future programme activities.
  • Strengthened capacity and commitment amongst partner organisations and key community stakeholders (traditional leaders, local government authorities, teachers, medical staff, media) to understand and address the relationship between gender norms and roles, negative masculinities and GBV and HIV & AIDS.
  • Positive changes in social norms, attitudes and behaviour related to GBV and gender equality, leading to a reduction in violence in the project sites.

In addition to a growing international evidence base which shows that well implemented work with men and boys can effectively address issues of gender inequality, independently conducted research continues to provide strong evidence of the OMC campaign’s effectiveness.

In a study by the World Health Organisation entitled, Engaging men and boys in changing gender-based inequity in health: Evidence from programme interventions (2010) the researchers assess a large number of programmes working with men and boys around the world. They found (amongst other things) that “well-designed programmes with men and boys show compelling evidence of leading to change in behaviour and attitudes.”

Research conducted in 2009 by Chris Colvin indicated significant changes in short-term behaviour in the weeks following OMC activities: 25% of respondents had accessed voluntary counselling and testing, 50% reported an act of GBV, 61% increased their use of condoms, and over 80% talked to friends or family members about HIV, gender and human rights issues.

Research undertaken by Shari Dworkin and colleagues, What role can gender-transformative programming for men play in increasing men’s HIV testing and engagement in HIV care and treatment in South Africa?, shows further clear evidence that men participating in OMC programmes adjust their attitudes and behaviours in line with OMC’s objectives. This qualitative research assessed OMC participants’ changes in masculine ideologies and health beliefs and behaviours.

The study was undertaken in two provinces, Limpopo and Eastern Cape, and the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 60 OMC participants. Questions covered issues of gender relations and women’s rights, violence, relationships and sex, masculinity, fatherhood, gender and HIV risks, HIV prevention and testing, and community action teams (CATs).

The research clearly shows that men who have participated in OMC activities afterwards embrace trends towards equality for women, understand their male identity differently and are more involved in household labour and child care.

“A lot has changed, like I said. My childhood observations of a man as boss was wrong and before I attended OMC sessions; I continued to believe that it is the same wrong things that need to be done. But after some sessions and engagement in discussions with various people with various points of view, I then realised that it is wrong to treat women like they do not exist.”

The clearest impact of OMC participation has been on reductions in alcohol use, with a third of men reporting that they had reduced their alcohol consumption and changed their alcohol related behaviours.

''Since I became involved with OMC, I am able to go for a month without having a single drink of alcohol. Now I respect my girlfriend and if I have to go and see her, I make sure that I go in a sober state and I also respect her wishes if she wants us to use protection during sex.''

The research also shows a links between OMC and increased HIV testing, increased condom use, reduction in the number of partners and an increase in interventions in situations of violence between men and women.

For further information on this project please contact Dumisani Rebombo, Manager: Community Education & Mobilisation, Sonke Gender Justice.
Tel: +27 (0)11 339 3589
Email: dumi@genderjustice.org.za