by Corinne Yank, Communications Manager

Equal Community Foundation’s Project Raise

The COVID-19 crisis brought to light many gender inequalities around the world. In India, rates of domestic violence skyrocketed during the mandatory lockdown, and other challenges such as the unequal distribution of household work presented more of a burden than ever on women and girls stuck in their homes.

Knowing that hundreds of boys trained by Equal Community Foundation’s Project Raise were advocating for gender equality within their own homes and communities during this crisis provided us with reasons to remain hopeful. We heard heartwarming stories of boys taking on chores around the house and encouraging their male family members to do the same, speaking out in their communities when they witnessed harassment of girls, asking tough questions, and initiating important conversations within their own circles. In the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, Project Raise and the importance of engaging boys in the fight for gender equality was more salient than ever before.

“While the world came to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Action for Equality boys quietly continued fighting a much bigger pandemic that has been around for eons. Cooking, washing vessels, and cleaning their houses, these boys have quietly been sweeping the patriarchy out the door.”

• Equal Community Foundation •

As you probably know, the power of Project Raise lies in collaboration – in replicating and scaling ECF’s effective model to educate and mobilize more and more boys around the country. Understandably, there were some delays and setbacks presented by the COVID-19 crisis towards the end of this ECF grant cycle. However, between April 2019 and June 2020, Project Raise continued to make major strides, including:

  • Outreach to 80 non-governmental and community-based organizations in various states across India to explore potential partnerships;
  • Introductory Workshops were held for 47 organizations, during which they were exposed to the approach of raising gender equitable boys; 
  • 8 Intensive Training Workshops were conducted for 145 participants from 24 organizations;
  • In collaboration with ECRW’s Gender Equality Movement in Schools (GEMS), training workshops were developed and delivered, with the potential to engage 2,000 additional boys;
  • 4 partner organizations received funding to launch pilot programs for boys this year;
  • 102 new members joined Project Raise online portal.

We were so pleased to see two GoPhil partners join Project Raise and launch their own programs to engage boys in the fight for gender equality. During this grant cycle: 

  • AVANI successfully completed two cycles of the Project Raise program with 86 and 286 boys enrolled respectively and 73 and 282 boys graduated respectively. They have now launched a third cycle with 266 boys. 
  • Vikalp Sansthan launched a pilot with 96 boys. 

With all this impressive progress, the total number of boys enrolled in Project Raise programs to date is 2,601. Of those, 958 boys have graduated so far.

As mentioned, due to the COVID-19 crisis there were some unprecedented challenges and delays during this grant cycle.

“The COVID-19 outbreak and consequent national restrictions have resulted in a delay in workshops that were planned for March. These restrictions have also affected the schedule for the next quarter. In order to mitigate this challenge, online workshops are being planned and proposed to potential partner organizations.” – Project Raise Team

With Project Raise workshops and trainings on hold for the last few months, ECF requested to repurpose some of the remaining grant funds from GoPhil to help cover staff salaries during the crisis, and we were quick to approve their request. This has been essential in retaining core staff members and ensuring the continuation and sustainability of Project Raise — we thank the ECF donors for their flexibility and solidarity!

An increase in domestic violence during lockdown in India finds the work of ECF’s Project Raise more important than ever before. If you are able, please make a donation by clicking the button below.