Project to stop violence against women in India

New partnership with PRIA and SAKAR in Uttar Pradesh, India


We are happy to announce that the full project grant is now ready to be sent to our two partnerorganizations in India. We are looking foward to seeing how the project unfolds over the coming months and report back to our members, who made this possible. Thank you!

Overall purpose of this project

The project: “Collective footprints to end violence against women and girls” is a campaign conceptualized, designed and implemented by youth, who are the embodiment of change in any society. The thrust of the campaign is based on the premise that youth hold the passion and commitment to build a new world order, defined on principles of justice and gender equality.

The objectives:

1. Develop youth leadership in the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
2. Support youth in demanding institutional accountability of universities, colleges, schools, panchayats (grass roots governance systems), municipalities and government offices in ensuring safety for women and girls
3. Encourage youth to initiative a multi-stakeholder coalition which supports this campaign


The campaign will be conducted in an intensive mode in 10 villages in the Bhojipura block of Bareilly district, situated in western Uttar Pradesh, India.

The youth in general and young girls in particular, in this block, are either poorly educated or illiterate. Young girls who do manage to go to school are forced to leave at a very young age, often after grade 5, to help in the household, or contribute towards the family occupation. Confined within their homes, by male members (brothers, fathers, uncles) of their families; these girls are suppressed and consistently subjected to regular beatings, incest, honor killings or forced marriages – it leaves them with little or no opportunities for further education or living an independent life. Outside the home, the girls find themselves once again in hostile settings making them vulnerable to violent acts of eve teasing, kidnapping and abduction, sex trade, acid attacks, rape, and molestation from other men and boys. Most often, gender based violence within their homes and outside is so subtle and deeply ingrained, as a routine part of their everyday lives, that these young girls are unable to recognise such violence even when they are subjected to the same. This includes accepting physical beatings, economic deprivation, sexual innuendoes and other forms of sexual abuse.

This initiative is located in the context of growing incidences of multiple forms of violence against women; lacunae in the implementation of laws and policies; acceptance of families and society in condoning this violence and the urgent need in bringing about attitudinal change at all levels of society. The campaign rests on the premise that youth can be a powerful influence in changing the mindsets and attitudes of individuals and society, crucial to achieving a more equitable society.

What are the current challenges that PRIA and SAKAR seek to address?

• Lack of access to educational opportunities, due to gender discrimination leaves girls with inadequate skills and exposure to be independent.
• Gender discrimination resulting in violence against women is a factor that inhibits young girls from pursuing opportunities of growth and development.
• Lack of financial security leads to exploitation of the girls in their homes and in society at large.
• Justification of abusive practices against women in the context of cultural norms, religious beliefs, theories and assumptions, leading to distortions, unequal power relations, violence against women.

Religion is used as a front to inhibit the mobility and education of adolescent girls, especially, Muslims. It is important to understand that the socio-cultural context of these young women restricts their access to even basic entitlements like education, health and hygiene, and deprives them of opportunities to grow. The challenge is of identifying the girls who are struggling to establish themselves in the face of this restrictive environment, as they face suppression from their family and outside.

While some of these challenges may be unique to the campaign location, violence against women and girls is not a new phenomenon. Many of the challenges faced by these young women find resonance in the stories of women across the world. An additional challenge for the CORE youth group leading this campaign is to be able to design a model that will inspire replication by other youth across the global arena.  

How does this project address the issue?

Collective Footsteps towards ending Violence Against Women is a unique collaborative effort between Help Every Day (Denmark); PRIA (New Delhi, India) and SAKAR (Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India) that brings to this campaign its own unique blend of international, national and grassroots experiences. This campaign also fosters another collaboration – that of the university and the community. A unique innovation that seeks to provide opportunities for youth (both boys and girls) from the universities and the communities to come together to design, strategise and spearhead a campaign that will address the issue of violence against women and girls.

This project is based on the principles and tools of a Campaign Approach, in reaching its objectives of ending violence against women. It will draw upon the experiences of PRIA, (garnered through its Pre-Election Voter Awareness Campaign (PEVAC) during the period 2000-10), in creating a campaign that reaches out to the masses. The same approach will be used in this initiative to foster a change in attitude towards women and a subsequent reformation in action and behaviour that reflects and demonstrates the changed thinking. It also draws on experiences from SAKAR’s field based experience of working with adolescent girls, including its campaign called Maun Nahi Awaaz Do on stopping violence against women. This campaign had led to and awareness raising and perspective building, with women accepting that they were facing violence in different forms, which should be brought to an end.

The campaign methodology envisages mobilizing a large number of young girls and boys from both rural and urban sections. It comprises of the following elements:

• Youth as change agents
• Addressing both sexes
• Attitudinal change and personal responsibility to end Violence Against Women
• Peer learning
• Linkages between educational institutions, civil society and community
• Involvement of local governments
• Demonstrate a model to be replicated in other districts of the state.

Given below are the main activities to be undertaken in this project. It is envisaged that as the campaign picks up momentum in the identified sites, the educational institutions will take on a greater ownership of the campaign and its related activities. With proactive dissemination of the lessons and methodology of this campaign, concrete efforts will be made to initiate the launching of similar campaigns in adjoining blocks and districts in the state.

1. Identification of partners
Partners to be identified will be drawn from schools and higher education institutions, youth groups, community groups, elected representatives, government officials, media, radio partner, theatre personnel, creative artists and other resource persons who will contribute strategically and operationally to the campaign.

2. Formation of CORE Groups
Formation of 1 CORE Group consisting of 8-10 members drawn from university/college students, faculty, Community Based Organisation (CBO), Community Based Youth Groups (boys and girls) and PRIA/SAKAR representatives, for launching the campaign in each of the identified locations. The individuals from these groups will be selected on the basis of:
• their interest and commitment to the issue;
• leadership qualities displayed in their educational institutions/communities;
• ability to give time and
• those already a part of the existing youth groups – Kishori Samuhas (groups for adolescent girls) and Yuvak groups (for young boys) in the communities of each of the identified project locations.

3. Capacity Building to develop campaign strategy

Members of the CORE Groups will receive intensive capacity building on various issues including gender-based violence, systems of local governance and administration, legal provisions, campaign management and strategic planning.

Local level workshops with mixed groups of young boys and girls from colleges and the community to build and/or access existing campaign material and other tools, such as banners, posters, illustrations and graphics, songs, jingles, slogans and videos.

4. Launching campaign in the on ground and online modes

• Launching of on ground campaign in the identified locations
• Joining existing online campaign to enable mass engagement of youth in the identified locations and neighbouring states, to spread awareness and make pledges on ending violence against women.

5. Closing of the campaign

A daylong event will be held to culminate the activities of the campaign. It will comprise of bringing together some of the key participants of the campaign and giving them a platform to voice their reflections and opinions on the issue of VAW through music/art/writing, as learnt from the campaign.

6. Highlights from the campaign

One photo- publication that captures the voices of the youth from the festival of expressions

Long term impact

Initiatives through this pilot phase of the campaign hopes to achieve the following results:

1. Educational institutions are ready and willing to take on the campaign in a more independent manner
2. Women and girls begin reporting an increase in their sense of safety and security in public spaces
3. Men and young boys begin reporting a personal change in their behaviour towards girls and women
4. Police, district officials, and leaders of Panchayats and Municipalities begin to show a positive response and sensitivity in dealing with reported cases of violence against women

Background information about PRIA and SAKAR and the “Collective footprints to end violence against women” campaign

It was in the aftermath of the brutal gang rape of a para-medic student in December 2012 that India awoke to see hundreds of people cutting across class, caste, gender, age, occupation take to the streets in protest of this heinous act and a condemnation of the increasing violence against women. The protests had many unique elements. For the first time, ordinary people, especially women, took to the streets and joined in the public demonstrations, along with their families. The message was clear – acts of violence against women were unacceptable and were no longer going to be tolerated.

The realisation was also dawning that violence was no longer a ‘woman’s issue alone’; violence against women affects the lives of everyone and is one of the major obstacles towards the development and growth of individuals, families and societies. Passive acceptance and/or denial of the violence were not the solution to this problem.
The youth were at the front of the mass agitation that shook the country. They were demanding answers; they sought change and most importantly, they were ready to be a part of the change that they wanted in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

It was during this period that PRIA convened a Round Table discussion to deliberate upon ways in which collective action could be taken to address the growing incidence of violence against girls and women in rapidly urbanizing India. This discussion produced a deeper understanding of the components of the strategy that needs to be implemented as a group, concerned about such matters. The challenge that faces all concerned about the increasing incidents of violence against women is to devise new strategies and adopt models that encourage a more egalitarian society, demonstrated in equal power relationships and acceptance of individual freedom, especially for the women in society.

PRIA’s theory of change for this project would be that institutions and people’s participation could play a major role in changing behaviour of society. Through 13 years of experience in dealing with Sexual Harassment at the Workplace, PRIA’s experience has realised that changing behaviour of members of any institution, which are governed by rules and regulations, is the most effective way of bringing about change in the society.

As a voluntary development organisation SAKAR strives to make the lives of the marginalised, especially women and children more meaningful by helping them engage in the change process. Key to this lies in fulfilling information needs and facilitating a feeling of togetherness in them.

SAKAR has been working in Bhojipura block of Bareilly district in western Uttar Pradesh with adolescent girls since 2007 on issues related to governance and their collectivization leading to their social and economic empowerment.


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