In a nutshell

No. A community-led approach is quite realistic and views communities as complex social systems that have a mixture of supports for and risks to children. It recognizes that most communities are sites of power differences that usually marginalize girls and women as well as other groups.

A community-led approach does not assume that communities are automatically “good” or “bad” or that communities will always make decisions that are in the best interests of children.

Community-led approaches also view communities as dynamic rather than static—they are always changing. When encouraged and supported, this process of ongoing internal change can help shift social norms and cultural practices in ways that support children's rights and well-being.

To help communities engage in constructive, rights-supportive action on behalf of children, external actors can play a facilitative role. We can enable inclusive dialogue, which brings forward voices and perspectives (including from girls and boys) that are not usually heard or considered in community meetings. Such dialogue helps identify cultural practices that are harmful, and which community members are ready to change.

For example, in India, communities where early marriage was still a social norm elected themselves to end child marriage. The fact that communities themselves are leading change from within makes it more likely that the norm of child marriage will be weakened.

In many respects, we have only begun to tap into the potential for changing social norms through community-led action.

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