Resilience approaches often focus on community and systems levels. Our research in Nepal and Niger highlights how individuals and intra-household socio-cultural norms impact resilience strategies, through exploring the effects of the “Household Dialogue,” an intervention designed to foster inclusive decision-making and gender equity in the household.
Our research found that improving women’s empowerment at the household level can catalyze resilient behaviors at both household and community levels. Women’s meaningful participation in community groups and activities can build their resilience capacities, but their ability to participate is often hindered by socio-cultural norms that limit their time and mobility. The Household Dialogue activity shifted gender attitudes and behaviors in four important areas:
- Increased women’s self-confidence and participation in household and community decisions.
- Increased men’s trust in women outside of the home, which improved women’s mobility.
- Increased sharing of household chores reduced women’s time burden, which enabled them to participate in other activities offered by the resilience-focused program.
- Increased men’s respect for women and their opinions, which improved women’s participation in household decision-making.
The Household Dialogue activity addressed intra-household gender dynamics, which represented an important shift in resilience programs. Prior to this, many resilience programs focused solely on community and systems levels, but the Household Dialogue activity focused on individuals and intra-household dynamics. This approach increased individuals’ participation and agency in community-level decision-making. Women with knowledge and skills that could contribute to household and community resilience were included in decision-making processes instead of being discouraged or silenced. Resilience-focused programs must invest in addressing intra-household gender dynamics, alongside community- and systems-level changes, to unlock the full value of the strategic program approach.