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Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

What is Stepping Stones?

Stepping Stones is a workshop series designed as a tool to help promote sexual health, improve psychological well-being and prevent IPV and HIV. The workshops address questions of gender, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, gender violence, communication and relationship skills. In doing so they recognise that our sexual lives are embedded in a broader context of our relationships with our  partners, families and the community or society in which we live.

It is relatively easy to give people knowledge about making changes in their lives e.g. using condoms but people often find that they are not able to make such changes because they do not communicate well with their partner, fear violence or abandonment, or think their culture or religion does not allow it. If we are successful in reducing intimate partner violence and frustrations arising from poor communication people will feel healthier.

The original Stepping Stones manual has been adapted for use in South Africa and is now available in a Third Edition (2010) as ‘Stepping Stones – South African edition’. This is distributed by the SAMRC Gender & Health Research Unit and if you would like a copy please contact: Monalisa Hela on

Stepping Stones & Stepping Stones Plus

The Stepping Stones programme was originally designed for use in Uganda, with 4 peer groups, to promote cross-gender and cross-generational mutual understanding and learning around gender, HIV, communication and relationship skills. It is designed mainly for adolescents aged around 15 and upwards and adults. Wholly revised and updated in 2016, it is now called Stepping Stones & Stepping Stones Plus. It has a dedicated website with updated adaptation guidelines (2017), FAQs, newsletters, and many evaluation reports and presentations from around the world. The creators have also produced Stepping Stones with Children, designed mainly for use with orphans and vulnerable children aged 5-8, 9-14 and their caregivers; and Stepping Stones for Peace & Prosperity, designed to reduce sexual violence in post-conflict settings. To learn more, click here .” 

What do the Stepping Stones Workshops provide?

Stepping Stones workshops provide opportunities for participants to examine their values and attitudes towards gender and relationships, to build on their knowledge of aspects of sexual health and HIV/AIDS, and to develop skills that will help them communicate their needs and wants to others.
The workshops are based on participatory learning approaches, as people learn better when their knowledge is affirmed and they are able to discuss issues and come to their own conclusions.

Using the Stepping Stones manual

The manual is intended to be used in its entirety with peer group participants who work through all sessions, each building on previous sessions. It is designed for use with people of any age and all genders.

Originally developed for use in small, rural communities in Uganda, it has now been adapted for South Africa and after well over a decade of use is in its 3rd Edition.

Stepping Stones manual contents

The Stepping Stones workshops are designed to be held with two or more peer groups drawn from a community at the same time (although this is not essential). They consist of 10 sessions held with separate peer groups.

Research on Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones has been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial conducted with young men and women in the rural Eastern Cape, and among young women and men in urban informal settlements in eThekwini.