Violence against Women — A Man’s Issue
Every time we hear about ending violence against women, we are always informed about the various things that women can do to protect / equip herself, via education, self defense lessons, financial empowerment and the like. It’s not often that someone actually thinks about ending the violence by looking at the perpetrator, i.e. the men.
I met Will last year at a talk organised by the Women’s Network in my company, where he spoke about the work that he does with Equal Community Foundation (ECF) in Pune to combat gender inequity. I walked out feeling completely inspired by ECF and their cause.
Here is a rundown of how they create change:
Action For Equality is a program designed for young men aged 14–17 who are taught to recognise and avoid abuse towards women. They go through a course designed to help them understand gender equality, and are put into support groups where they can talk about abuse in their communities. They graduate from the program and act as champions / mentors to the next batch of students.
The program is conducted after school hours and occupies the kids’ time in a useful manner — the students are now in a positive, safe and educational environment even after school and are thus less likely to engage in destructive behaviour.
ECF works with grassroots organisations to attract and popularise the program amongst the community members. Not surprisingly, an impact study performed showed that 61% of the women who live with the graduates have reported a reduction in violence and discrimination at the hands of the graduates.
This is such a simple model but it works. Sometimes, all that an adolescent boy needs is awareness and guidance on what exactly is gender violence and what he can do to stop it in his own home.
Some hopeful quotes from the impact study:
“He always got into fight with other boys while they are playing together but in last six months he didn’t indulge into a single fight” (Mother, Bhimtola)
“He interrupts us when we are arguing or fighting with each other in our home and told us that we shouldn’t fight with each other and we should try to understand each other’s feelings, I wonder how he changed so much suddenly and when I asked him about it he told I learned about it in ECF class” (Mother, Tadiwala Road)
“Yes, I noticed the positive change in his behavior. He told me not to drink alcohol, earlier I drank so much alcohol but nowadays I drink less” (Father, Bhimtola)
ECF is looking for volunteers and donations so that they can expand to other communities outside of Pune. Get in touch with them here.