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Evidence-based insights to shift the norms, values and behaviours that create and sustain the social and cultural bedrock in which everyday forms of gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment and discrimination are rooted.

Informing and evaluating public, private, and civil society sector policies, strategies, and programmes aimed at substantive change.

Nomthunzi Mashalaba: 6 Moments of a Life Referenced 


Expertise in methods, tools, and approaches from anthropology and the broader social sciences, extensive applied research experience, and specialist knowledge in gender, diversity, and social and behaviour change.



Putting decision-makers in touch with insider perspectives and meanings that algorithms and big data can neither see nor understand.

Contextually relevant. Culturally resonant. People-centered.

what we do

Research focus areas

what we do

EthnoEquity generates evidence-based insights that uncover the myriad ways in which gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination is woven into the ordinariness of everyday life.

Shedding light on how this ordinariness is normalised and institutionalised across all sectors of society, including through  cultural blindspots and biases, is a core focus. 

                                           is designed to shed light on these dynamics and the silences and invisibilities that they aid.

We do this by centering the perspectives and voices of the social actors that are variably involved in the day-to-day interactions and encounters that create and sustain these dynamics. This deepens decision-makers' understandings of how gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination actually operates within institutional, organisational, and community contexts. Importantly, it allows these social problems to be seen through the lens of everyday lived reality, notably a lens that illuminates real-world pathways for substantive change.   

EthnoEquity offers decision-makers a unique vantage point for seeing the everyday dimensions of gender and diversity related inequality through the eyes of social actors who are variably situated in the many contexts within which it is enacted.

Senzeni Marasela: Covering Sarah

In 'Covering Sarah' (above), the artist depicts herself and her mother exposing and redressing the traumatic history of Sarah Baartman, the Khoisan woman who was exhibited as a curiosity in Europe. Its references to past [and present] forms of sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination at intersections of race and other lines of difference are unmistakeable. It also makes the point that uncovering gender and diversity related inequality in all its guises is imperative if its wounds are to be dressed, healed, and transformed. To do this , specialised ways of looking that see its ordinary everyday facets - often hidden in plain sight - are vital. This is at the heart of the research that EthnoEquity does.

Julie Mehretu: Stadia 1

Research themes and focus areas

EthnoEquity's research is guided by several themes and focus areas that speak directly to the social and cultural landscapes in which violence, harassment, and discrimination on gender and diversity grounds occurs.

We investigate them through the various services that we offer, applying specialist social science                                             to produce richly detailed people-centered views of these landscapes, and behind-the-scenes insights into the norms, meanings, values, pressures and situational factors that shape them. 

From organisational culture to public health, education, economic empowerment and financial inclusion, policing, community development, media and communication, design thinking and consumer culture, and everything between.

Our focus areas are broad. Our research offering extends to all sectors. This aligns with our aim:

Advancing gender and diversity related equity and inclusion, and combatting sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination through evidence-based insights that inform widespread social, culture, and behaviour change.


Banele Khoza: Behind closed doors

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Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: Panthea 02

Some key themes examined in our work

Cultures of silence and secrecy

  • Narratives and practices that regulate the concealment of gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination within institutions, organisations, communities, and elsewhere. 

Gender-based violence (GBV) as lived experience

  • Differences and similarities in lived experiences of GBV among and between people who identify as men, women, and gender non-conforming

  • Intersections between lived experiences of GBV and exclusions on grounds of sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, health, and other identity and diversity variables

Consumer culture

  • Discriminatory representations of gender and diversity in design thinking and marketing

Expressions and drivers of gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination

  • Expressions:

    • What social actors do and say to enact violence, harassment, and discrimination

  • Drivers:

    • Meanings of femininity, masculinity, and valued identity

    • Gender and social norms

    • Situational factors, including socio-economic  pressures and struggles 

Media and advertising

Gender and diversity bias and stereotyping in messages, images, and  information, education, and communication content across a range of digital and traditional media and advertising platforms

Alternative masculinities

Understandings and expressions of masculinity in institutions, organisations, and communities, that:

Actively contest sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination (SGBVHD), and diversity related harm and exclusions

Differ from typologies of men as dominant and violent

Research Services

Innovative research.                     People-centered insights. 

Grounded in the perspectives, voices, and local contexts that reference the lived realities of diverse social actors.

For decision-makers who know that a one-size-fits-all response to transformation negates exclusions along various lines of  difference, including race, gender, sexual orientation, stigmatised health conditions, and socio-economic status, and that this defeats rather than advances the equity, diversity, and inclusion project.

Julie mehretu .jpg

"Story maps of no location"

- As described by the artist.

Julie Mehretu: Stadia1

Some of our specialized offerings

Organizational culture assessments

Special focus on gender and diversity related equity and inclusion, and sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination . 

Voices and visibilities index

Investigates gender-based and diversity related exclusions by examining barriers to voice and visibility. This provides a measure of transformation across these indicators as well as critical insights into cultures of silencing.

Customer experience (CX): Gender and diversity journeys

Applies a gender and diversity lens to the customer experience, and examines gender and diversity bias in design thinking, marketing, and consumer culture. 

Diverse masculinities spotlight:

  • Identifies meanings and portrayals of masculinity that differ from stereotypes of dominance, force, control, and aggression. Offers deep insight for interventions aimed at:

    • Ending normative associations between violence and valued masculinity

    • Addressing conflict and male 'disempowerment' without recourse to violence.

Social, culture, and behaviour change communication

Informing and evaluating messages and content for campaigns and programmes aimed at combatting sexual and gender-based violence, and promoting gender and diversity related equity and inclusion

Equity and inclusion maps:

  • Layers the tangible and intangible things that influence narratives and practices of gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination onto the spatial landscapes of institutions, organisations, and communities. This plots connections between physical spaces and places and context specific barriers and opportunities for change. 

Sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination (SGBVHD) Behaviour Spectrum

Although rape and femicide capture the headlines, they are extremes on a broad spectrum of SGBVHD related behaviours.

EthnoEquity examines what this spectrum looks like from the perspective of diverse social actors.

This helps to identify behaviours that are hidden or overlooked, not openly spoken about, or insufficiently addressed within organisations, communities, and institutional settings.

Connections between extreme behaviours and 'lesser' or  gateway behaviours on the spectrum may also show up, helping to identify opportunities for early intervention.

Men engagement continuum

  • Identifies where men are positioned on a stages of change continuum. This uncovers factors that hinder or promote men's readiness to actively engage in processes to transform SGBVHD. It also helps to identify 'the movable middle'.

'In Other Words’

An EthnoEquity project aimed at changing languages of gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination

Intervening in verbal expressions of violence, harassment, and discrimination on gender and diversity grounds requires insight into a) local vocabularies of gender, race, sexuality, and other diversity variables b) the meanings that speakers attach to the words, phrases, and naming terms that comprise this vocabulary, and c) context specific factors that normalise these vocabularies and its ways of speaking. The 'In Other Words' project provides these insights.

These insights have special relevance in diverse cultural and language contexts, assisting those charged with developing social and behaviour change communication programmes and campaigns to guard against the use of messages that may be experienced as alienating, or that may not be understood by all intended audiences.


This emphasis on social and behaviour change messaging that is translatable across cultures is an EthnoEquity specialization.

Research services

who we are

EthnoEquity is a social impact research consultancy that is committed to eradicating gender and diversity related inequality within all spheres of society.

We focus on the social and cultural aspects of this inequality. This entails uncovering the meanings and values that drive it, and the processes, practices, behaviours, and things that normalize, routinize, and institutionalize it within the humdrum of regular life.

Our work pays particular attention to the ways in which gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination (GBVHD) intersects with exclusions on a range of diversity related grounds, including sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, and stigmatized health conditions.  

Ethnography, anthropology's signature descriptive method, and                         ,

a specialized mode of interpretive analysis that uncovers novel insights that are not obvious to the untrained eye, are among EthnoEquity's core skills. 

Who we are

Name and Logo

‘Ethno’ from the Greek word ethnos - meaning the study of people and human connection across cultural and social difference.

‘Equity’ deriving from the Latin word aequitat – meaning treatment that is fair, equal, and free from bias. 

The name 'EthnoEquity'

The EthnoEquity logo:

Inspired by Africa's many-faced and many-headed ceremonial masks, the EthnoEquity logo is a reference to the many faces, shapes, and forms that gender and diversity related inequality has, not least when it intersects with exclusions along multiple lines of difference.


The EthnoEquity logo also pays respects to the mask as a symbol of vision, especially ways of looking that see from the inside out. For instance, among the Lega people of the DRC, the many-headed mask is historically associated with an inner eye and the knowledge, insight, and wisdom that is acquired through life-long processes of learning.


Philosophy and Guiding Principles

EthnoEquity is not in the business of 'extracting' data from the people who we expect to answer our questions and participate in our research. Rather, we strive to practice our craft in ways that do not undermine the knowledge and authority of research participants. Our well honed reflexive skills are instrumental in helping us to do this. These skills heighten our awareness of the impact that our presence has on the research context. This, along with our expertise in sense-making, is part of the invaluable toolkit that we use to manage researcher biases and its distorting effects on what emerges as facts, findings, and evidence. Analysis and reports of what we hear, observe, and document, are therefore less likely to be skewed through our own cultural lenses.  This is critical for objectivity and integrity in research.        

Impetus for EthnoEquity

Credit: Ashraf Hendricks  (September 2019)

​Aware that much of the existing data, including various gender and diversity inequality indices, provide insufficient insight into socio-cultural complexities, nuances, and invisible barriers

Frustrated by the fact that crucial beyond-the-surface insights are often missed by normative ways of looking and listening that reflect the very status quos and prejudices that need to change


Inspired by the renewed surge of local and global activism leading in to the 2020 decade, the state's growing acknowledgement of the crisis proportions of SGBVHD, and clear signs that private sector, government, and civil society leaders are increasingly waking up to its devastating impact across the spectrum of social, economic, and political life 


EthnoEquity comes forward at a critical time with crucial expertise to inform and evaluate gender and diversity related equity and inclusion (GDEI) interventions aimed at meaningful social and culture change.


How we work

Depending on the scope and nature of the project, EthnoEquity collaborates with other research agencies, consultants, and experts. Research outputs, especially from ethnographic and qualitative studies, also reflect our collaborative work ethic - where possible, we produce texts, visual materials, and other products with, rather than only about, research participants. EthnoEquity works with experienced field researchers who are familiar with local contexts, cultures, and languages. Among them are field researchers that EthnoEquity's founder and head of research, Veronica Sigamoney, has mentored and trained over the years. On occasion, EthnoEquity also creates space for postgraduate students from anthropology to apply and further develop their skills, notably in projects that align with their areas of specialization. This contributes to knowledge sharing and capacity strengthening.

Founder and Head of Research


Veronica Sigamoney

Veronica Sigamoney is EthnoEquity's founder, resident anthropologist, and gender and diversity research specialist. With long time exposure to academia, notably in the disciplines of anthropology and gender studies, and applied research experience that spans a 20-year period, Veronica thinks of herself as a 'pracademic'.

Veronica has contributed to the international research scholarship on gender and diversity related inequality, and sexual and gender-based violence, harassment, and discrimination (SGBVHD) in Southern African contexts, and has also published in the popular press. 

In her professional capacities as both an employee and an independent research consultant, Veronica has led and participated in projects relating to these themes as well as many others. Career highlights include leading research to inform and evaluate HIV and AIDS and gender norms interventions for a global social and behaviour change communication programme, and a funded initiative to combat discrimination against gender nonconforming people and LGBTI (lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people. Veronica has investigated SGBVHD in relation to policing and law enforcement, education, and femicide, among other things. Her work on gender and diversity related inequality has also extended to organisational and institutional culture, language and communication (including cross-cultural), and consumer culture, customer experience (CX) and design thinking. Veronica has mentored and trained several researchers who have worked with her on these and other projects.


Veronica's postgraduate research on gender inequality across issues of race and class, beginning in the 1990s and ongoing, marks a sustained commitment to gender as a field of study and lifelong learning. This research has been varied and wide ranging: from an investigation into how women employees who belonged to what was then called the Durban Indian Municipal Employees Society (DIMES) managed tensions between domestic roles and responsibilities and the demands of paid work, to examining the gendered dimensions of apartheid era economic and labour practices in the clothing industry in the Bantustans, men's understandings, performances, and experiences of masculinity, fatherhood and family, and an ongoing project on cultures of silence, secrecy, and stigma. Veronica has also lectured in the field of anthropology and gender.

Approach and Methods

approach + methods

Through expert application of the                          approach, EthnoEquity uncovers the meanings that diverse social actors attach to behaviour, social interactions, and encounters, generating the kind of people-centered  insights that are crucial for interventions aimed at behaviour change as well as broader social and culture change.


EthnoEquity uses a wide range of                   that are designed to generate                      

The ethnographic method is our hallmark.


Blessing Ngobeni: Blind Eyes


For people-centered insights

Sense-making is exactly what it sounds like - an interpretive approach for understanding how diverse social actors make sense of what they - and others - say, do, and see. This goes a long way towards uncovering the meanings that they attach to behaviour, social interactions, and various other encounters with people as well as things. In turn, the norms and values that drive these meanings become evident, as do the cultures of violence and inequality that these norms and values create and sustain across a range of identity and diversity variables. With access to such insights, decision-makers are able to better see and understand the  problem, gap, or need, from the point of view of those whose lived realities they seek to intervene in. 

Cutting through biases 

In centering these points of view, sense-making therefore acts as a check on the biases and assumptions of the untrained eye. This minimises the assumptions, blindspots, and distortions that occur when change agents and external observers filter what they see and hear through their own cultural lenses and frames of reference.



























Because policies, strategies, and programmes aimed at combatting gender-based and diversity related violence, harassment, and discrimination may well be self-defeating if, as an unintended consequence, they reflect and perpetuate the unconscious biases and hidden prejudices that reference the very inequalities they seek to change.


Thick data

'Thick data' draws from what anthropologists call, 'thick description'. Made popular by the renowned anthropologist Clifford Geertz, it tells us WHY something is happening in CONTEXT. This puts WHAT is happening at SCALE into perspective. How does thick data do this? By telling context specific stories about complex social phenomena that are thick with detail, nuance, and texture, notably stories that bring to light the worldviews and lived realities of the diverse social actors within those contexts, along with the meanings that they attach to human behaviours, practices, and relations. Thick data is therefore essential to an analytics of understanding. It is also a powerful medium for rich insight into how to disrupt norms, values, and technologies that enable the continuation of harm. It is not easy to quantify. Yet, without it, the numbers, regardless of how robust and representative, can only offer 'thin' measures of problems such as gender-and-diversity-based inequality.





EthnoEquity's research is anchored in methods that, separately, or in combination, support the generation of thick data. We make use of a wide range of qualitative methods. We are also skilled in the use of mixed methods that incorporate both qualitative and quantitative components. With mixed methods, qualitative data gives context and meaning to numeric patterns and generic measures generated by surveys and other big data instruments, and quantitative indicators help to link human stories to what is happening at scale. Ethnography, birthplace of thick data, and our hallmark method, is unparalleled in providing the kind of deep immersive insights that can only emerge through insitu observation and other ethnographic techniques. This method, especially important since what social actors say they do isn't always what they actually do, gets up close and personal with the lived realities of others. In so doing, it not only sheds light on the everyday ways in which phenomena such as SGBVHD and diversity related inequality manifest in behaviours, practices, and other actions, it uncovers what these actions mean to the social actors that enact, witness, and/ or experience them. A key benefit is that insights that address the WHY question, and that may otherwise remain hidden, overlooked, and unknown, become evident. 

Qualitative, mixed, and ethnographic methods

Data collection techniques include:

Skilled at adapting these techniques, EthnoEquity tailors them to best suit project specific contexts, constraints, and requirements. In several of the projects that Veronica has designed, this has contributed to the development of innovative tools and materials that have produced  cutting-edge insights, not least on difficult topics and hard to engage populations.


Narrative enquiry: Indepth interviews, key informant interviews, diary research, life histories

Textual and content analysis


Ernest Mancoba: Untitled

Focus groups

Case studies

Photovoice and photo-elicitation


Document and literature reviews

How might the design and implementation of policies, strategies, and programmes be better informed by the perspectives of the culturally and socially diverse people whose lives they are intended to impact?


When thick data meets sense-making

Methods and techniques
Thick data


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