Month: June 2020

Month: June 2020

SHADHIKA: DAWN Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence in U.P. India

This is a brief report of intervention being done to make the society gender equitable by four grass root level organizations i.e. Asian Bridge India, as a lead organization and Grameen Punarnirman SansathanGramya Sansathan, and Navjyoti Swavlamban Seva Sansathan are partner organizations. 

‘SHADHIKA DAWN’ initiative to End Gender-Based Violence, project having consistency with SDG 3 (Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality) started in August 2019, implemented specifically in three villages named Nagepur, Ganeshpur and Benipur villages of Arajiline Block of Varanasi District in Uttar Pradesh, India. This project was primarily conceived to bring attitudinal and behavioral changes among adolescent boys and men including women and girls. Following are the impacts came out of mid-term evaluation conducted through focused group discussions and observation. 

Background: It was observed that in above mentioned selected villages out of the total marriages 40% are early marriage, the drop-rate of girls from school after primary education (class 5) is 25% and after junior high school (class 8) is about 50%, some incidences of maternal deaths have also been observed. According to the local police station total 38 cases of violence against women were registered in the police station in 2018, comprising rapes, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and dowry related violence and deaths. Women reports the problem of alcoholism among men is the leading cause of domestic violence. Though the rates of crimes against women are higher but most of them were unreported. Other gender based discrimination are son preferences leading to sex selective termination of pregnancy, restricted mobility of women and girls, unequal opportunity for women and girls with regards to their access to education, and employment, discrimination and harassment at schools, work spaces and public places and burden of contraception only on women are quite common manifestations of patriarchal social norms prevalent in those selected villages.

Goals of the project: 

The major focus of the project is (a) ending domestic violence in families and, (b) ending sexual harassment of girls and women in institutions, at work places and at public spaces. 

Strategies applied for this change project are organizing: regular meetings, training workshops, focused group discussions, exercises, games, puppet shows, street plays, wall writings, painting and essay writing competitions in schools, film shows, gender mapping, gender melas (fairs), and campaigns. 

The Constituencies for change are: 150 Boys of 10 to 17 years of age, 100 young men of 18 to 24 years of age, 100 Adult Men of 25 to 50 years of age, 150 Girls of 10 to 17 years of age and 150 Women of 18 to 49 years of age. The project also engages 75 major stake holders such as elected officials of local self-governance, political and religious leaders, media, police, judiciary, school teacher, DLSA, medical and para medical staff, ANMs. ASHAs.


Among Adolescents: Intervention strategy of consistent and periodical meetings, training workshops, film screenings, gender games held during August 2019–March 2020, with adolescent boys and girls of 10-17 years, yielded noticeable changes in their understanding, attitude and up to certain extent in behavioral practices. More than 60% of boys were able to recognize gender discrimination and sexual harassment in their own homes and neighborhood. They gained understanding of sexual division of labor and its relation with hierarchies of power within household. Boys got to understand the negative repercussion of sexual harassment on girls’ schooling opportunity. Around 70% sampled girls became aware about the legal safeguards and provision available to them against domestic and other forms of violence. This increased understanding helped to change their attitude towards previously taken for granted issues of sexual division of labor, violence against girls/women and other socially sanctioned but discriminatory gender norms. 

Adolescents’ participation in weekly meeting and discussion groups increased significantly. They became vocal not only in discussion group meetings but around 10% of the girls reported that they have raised voices in their homes also. As an impact of this intervention boys have started to participate in household chores like 15% of boys started washing their own cloths and helped in cleaning at home. 25% boys reported that they stopped using slangs or abusive words which sexually target women. Young girls reported that now they feel less hesitant while talking to non-family members whom they meet in public spaces and resisted when someone passed lewd comments. Some of them even had shared opinion on the issues of their marriage and career with parents/elders in their families. 

Impact on Adult Men and Women: In pre-intervention survey, most of the young men denied that they had inflicted any form of gender based violence, as in patriarchal social structure several forms of behaviours /violence are not perceived as violence and discriminatory. Though women were unhappy about some of the treatment meted out to them but they also lacked understanding and thought of it as a personal rather than a serious and structural problem.  After sustained effort of education and training on these issues 60% of men have increased and better understanding about GBV and its’ subtle forms, sexual harassment inside and outside of home, sexual division of labour and women’s unpaid labour.     

Intervention had a noticeable difference among women also, now they not only know about the project but all other resources available to them as legal safeguards and how to access them. They have better understanding of women’s rights and GBV. All this increased access to knowledge led to change in their attitude regarding GBV however, younger women (under 30 years) showed more enthusiasm for more knowledge, information and willingness to change than their older counterparts. 

One noticeable change is the increased attendance in meeting and participation by men and women both. There were several instances reported when women raised their voice or resisted in the opposite situation like, when women went to exposure visit to Gramaya Sansthan, and got late to return, their husbands persistently asked question about their whereabouts, without being frightened women explained the importance of the visit to them and handled the situation properly.  

Among Gatekeepers: One of the important target groups of this intervention was gatekeepers of the local society, school teacher, auxiliary health workers ANMs, local religious leaders, local media and government officials like, village heads (Gram Pradhans) and local self-governance officials. All the gatekeepers’ understanding about GBV and sexual harassment has increased however, as anticipated, most noticeable gains were in teachers (80%) and least gain were reported among religious leaders (40%). All the gatekeepers’ participation in the interventions meetings has increased. Some of the school teachers improved on their gender discriminatory pedagogical practices and started adopting more gender inclusive ways of teaching. The issue of male vasectomy was discussed in meeting with young men and it forced some of the men to think and they inquired about it with ANM and health workers.     


Ek Saath Campaign India

Ek Saath Abhiyan’ (to engage men and boys for active partnership to change gender discriminatory norms). Within the period of the year 2016 to 2019 more than four thousand intensive mobilization programs for engaging men and boys in 100 districts of 10 states with the alliance of 100+ community based organizations have been implemented so far. Target is to reach up to 50 lakh people in 15 states (UP, MP, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, HP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh) with engaging 25000 Samanta Saathis and 250 mentors to be trained intensively within five years.

Man Ek Darpan Training Manual was developed for mentors of Ek Saath Campaign that is being implemented with young boys at grass root levels mostly in villages and urban communities. This manual is developed in Hindi and Bangla languages which is implemented in a very easy language and a practical manner. This manual covers following twenty topics: Concept of GenderBurden of WorkGender Based Division of WorkEquity and EqualityPrivileges and ProhibitionsAccess to Resources and ControlEqual Opportunity and ParticipationDomestic ViolenceProtection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005Sexual ExploitationSex Selective Termination of PregnancyAbusive Languages and Sexist JokesLaws related to Sexual HarassmentSocialization of MasculinityImpact of Masculinity on Men and WomenMasculinity and Social InstitutionsBiological Identity and DiversitySexual RightsRight to Choose of Companion and Sexual Rights and Related Myths.


Samanta Saathis who successfully completed a year-long training under the Ek Saath National Campaign were felicitated in state-level adhiveshans or symposiums held from December 2019 onwards. The adhiveshans were occasions for the Samanta Saathis (the campaign’s male gender equality champions) to share their individual and community level stories of change, the challenges they face, and their learnings. They were accompanied by their mentors who are guiding and supporting them. 

Samanta Saathi Ranjan Shaw from West Bengal who is a student and also works as a tuition teacher, shared how after listening to the campaign’s audio drama training modules and holding discussions in his Ek Saath group he started feeling disturbed about the absence of girls and women from public places particularly from the many community level sports and activity clubs that are present across the state. “I took the initiative to ensure that sports trainings are organized for girls also in the New Abhijan Club with which I am associated and now girls too play football and cricket in the field which was never seen earlier,” says Shaw. Chandan Nagar in Rajasthan has been motivated to protest against early marriage and its impact on girls’ education. Both he and his sister Deepa had been married when they were minors, and after joining the campaign Chandan persuaded his parents to let Deepa stay at home and study as long as she wanted rather than sending her to her in-laws. “I also made them agree to postpone calling over my wife who is in her parents’ home and studying there. Though at the time I had not protested against the norm of early marriage, after joining the campaign I realised I should withstand the family pressure to make the girls stop their education,” shared Chandan. Samanta Saathis who completed a year’s training under the campaign received certificates as encouragement during the adhiveshans.

The campaign is working to transform gender discriminatory social norms through engaging male youth as equal partners for gender justice. It is continuing into its third year, being rolled out in 87 districts of eight states of India. A pool of 100 male mentors trained on issues of gender and masculinities have been actively engaging with 10,000 male change agents. Each mentor has been working with 100 change agents in his community, helping them to change norms at their individual level and also encouraging them to take community actions. 

During the 16 Days of Activism period in 2019 the Samanta Saathis and the campaign’s partner organisations joined in carrying out hundreds of events promoting gender rights and the role of men and boys on the issue. A series of posters called ‘Men Are Changing’ showcasing the work of selected Samanta Saathis has also been produced and widely disseminated. A campaign ‘Bystander No More’ was launched in response to horrific incidents of violence against women that took place in November-December 2019.