Discover how we are using social marketing to help support women suffering from gender-based violence in South Africa.

The Problem

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have set-up new clinical and counselling centres in the mining belt in the North West Province of South Africa to help women who have suffered from gender-based violence.  Since the service started operating, MSF had been increasingly concerned that very few women are accessing help in these new centres.  In 2016 they approached the NSMC to see if we could identify some of the key barriers that were preventing women coming to the centres and then to see if social marketing could play a role in making the centres more attractive to women who had suffered violence. 

What We Did


The NSMC carried out primary research with the target audience in Rustenburg, South Africa.  We discovered that the key barriers were that women felt shame and were fearful of the consequences of attending the centres.  Many of the women often knew their perpetrators and felt they could lose their home if they attended the clinics.  It was also clear that many women felt victimised and helpless.


We trained fifteen MSF health promotors who were already working in the local communities to promote the new centres.  After completing the NSMC accredited diploma course, they carried out a number of co-design workshops with stakeholders and the target audience to identify behavioural interventions that would overcome the barriers stopping women attending the new counselling and clinical centres. 


To overcome the barriers of shame, fear, victimisation and helplessness we have developed new marketing materials that promote confidentiality and provide stories of real women who have used the service and have been helped to regain control and confidence.  We have also created targeted radio messages and a whole series of new marketing materials for shops, churches and businesses. 

What We Achieved

We are currently evaluating the impact of the social marketing intervention with MSF, but initial indicators have shown that there is a much greater awareness of the new clinical and counselling services and how they can be accessed.  Our behavioural goal is for women to not only attend the centres but to also recommend the services MSF are providing to their friends and family.