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Step 5: Conducting Dialogue sessions

Over the course of the Dialogue sessions participants jointly envision a roadmap for change in their community.

What’s the aim?

To enable Dialogue participants to jointly envision a roadmap for change in the community.

What is this step about? 

The Dialogue sessions are the heart of the Generation Dialogue. In these sessions, groups of male and female participants, both younger and older, come together at regular intervals to learn about and appreciate the life experiences of members of the other generation. Over the course of the first four sessions, they come to understand the values which underpin others’ perspectives on the topic of the Dialogue and jointly negotiate – first in single sex groups, and then together – steps which could be taken in the community to change practices that are deeply-held, but also cause harm. 

This step is about implementing the first four Dialogue sessions which were designed and adapted in Step 4 of the Dialogue process.

What do you need to do?

Make the following arrangements to ensure that your Dialogue sessions run smoothly:

  • Identify male and female participants and invite them to be part of the Dialogue. Twenty-four men (12 older, 12 younger) and 24 women (12 older, 12 younger) should be identified from among the participants who took part in the Community Consultations. Explain to them the purpose of the Dialogue, their role as Dialogue participants, and the time commitment that is required.
  • Arrange suitable venues for the sessions. You will need two separate venues for the Men’s and Women’s Dialogues; these should be in different locations, but not too far from one another. Make arrangements for a tea break and a cooked lunch for each of the days when Dialogue sessions will be held. 
  • Organise the materials for the Dialogue sessions. Ensure that the supplies needed to run the Dialogue sessions are available. The facilitators for the Men’s and Women’s Dialogues must remember to bring the necessary materials to each session, and to pack them up again at the end of each day.
  • Review the plan for each Dialogue session the evening before. The facilitator teams should meet and go through the Dialogue manual to ensure that they remember how to facilitate each exercise and to clarify who will lead which part of the session. 
  • Prepare the rooms on the morning of each Dialogue session. Think about how you can decorate the Dialogue rooms to create a welcoming atmosphere. Colorful fabrics, cushions and pillows, and objects from local culture help to make the room feel welcoming and put participants at ease.
  • Facilitate the first four Sessions, one per week for four weeks, using the Dialogue manual as a guide. 

What is meant by ‘younger’ and ‘older’?
For the purposes of the Generation Dialogue, the ‘younger generation’ is usually defined as 18 to 30 years old and not yet married, and the ‘older generation’ as 50 to 70. However, ever society has its own way to define which community members are ‘young’ and which are ‘old’ or ‘older.’ Discuss the meaning of ‘young’ and ‘older’ for your community and then select Dialogue participants accordingly.

What resources can you use?

This document summarises the things which must be done before, during and after each Dialogue session. During this step, the Dialogue team should review these, discuss them and agree who will be responsible for which parts.

Refer to this list of materials and supplies when planning the Dialogue sessions.

How do you monitor this step?

The male and female coordinators should debrief each Dialogue session with the male and female facilitators, respectively, and note down key moments.  These should be written up into a brief report, as described in this document.

How do you know you’re ready to proceed to the next step?

Dialogue Sessions 1 through 4 have been successfully conducted. The Men’s and Women’s Dialogues have been joined and the participants have started to move towards a roadmap for change in their community.  Pledges and requests are ready to be presented at the first Public Meeting.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO take the time to review the plan for each Dialogue session the day before it takes place. The exercises need to be at the front of the facilitators’ minds.
  • DON’T spend a lot of money to rent meeting rooms in hotels for the Dialogues. A more modest venue in the community is more likely to provide the right ambience for open discussion.
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