by Allegra Mangione, GoPhil Development & Marketing Coordinator

Equal Community Foundation (ECF) is no stranger to broad-scale pandemics; they have been fighting the epidemic of gender inequality since 2009. Through their flagship program, Action for Equality, ECF equips 600 adolescent boys in India to combat gender-based violence and discrimination annually.

But ECF imagines something much larger — a national movement to raise boys who promote gender equality. In 2020, ECF had plans to spread its mission by providing training, curriculum, and guidance to other civil society organizations across India. When COVID-19 arrived, ECF quickly pivoted these efforts, called “Project Raise,” to an online model. The ECF team’s determination and perseverance to continue to grow a movement is truly inspiring. 

Following is an update from ECF on “Project Raise,” their initiative to bring programming to communities throughout India via partner Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Project Raise adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by shifting its model from face-to-face to online interactions. Now, ECF is successfully conducting outreach, networking, and capacity building sessions with their fellow CSOs remotely through online meetings and webinars.

Partnership as a Strategy Toward Movement Building

The scope of ECF’s partnerships is broadening at an impressive rate. Over the past three months, Project Raise has brought the curriculum to six partners: Ibtada, PUKAR, The Oscar Foundation, Enabling Leadership, UNESCO, and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).

Each of these partnerships has far-reaching impacts. For example, in collaboration with UNESCO, Project Raise trained 109 teachers in delivering the Action for Equality program. These teachers have taken the program to their classrooms and are offering it in 42 schools across India, reaching 1,785 boys.

Why Does Partnership Matter?

Many organizations work in isolation. Even if an organization has a local impact, it will not meaningfully scale its work without developing strong partnerships with like-minded organizations. Collaboration is the heart of GoPhil’s strategy, and likewise, many of GoPhil’s partners collaborate with organizations in their regions. While ECF holds expertise in implementing the Equality for All curriculum effectively, its partners hold imperative knowledge of the local contexts. They have strong roots in their communities, making them well-equipped to deliver the curriculum to the boys they already serve.

What Does a Movement Building Training Look Like? 

ECF staff had to reimagine its training as an online program. Each training aims to equip facilitators at partner organizations with the tools they need to help transform adolescent boys in their communities into champions for gender equality. Following are samples of the topics Project Raise’s curriculum covers: 

  • Human Rights for All 
  • Facilitation 
  • Understanding Gender Equality 
  • Adolescent Changes 
  • Deconstructing Sexuality 
  • Masculinity and Risk-Taking Behaviour 
  • Gender-Based Violence 
  • Sexual Violence and Consent 
  • Healthy Relationships 
  • Monitoring and Evaluation

ECF staff learned many lessons through delivering Project Raise’s curriculum and is diligently using the lessons learned to improve the curriculum. For example, educators who participated shared that they wanted more examples of working with young boys in the field, more time in small groups, and opportunities to conduct mock classes to practice the skills they learned.

Movement Building Requires Talent

To achieve this vision, ECF relies heavily on its highly skilled, well-trained, and experienced team of 16 core staff members. ECF’s future depends on its ability to retain its staff. GoPhil has committed to supporting ECF by funding the salaries for three key positions: The Project Raise Program Associate, the Action for Equality Program Coordinator, and the Research & Development Associate. GoPhil funding will also help ECF recruit mentors for the 13-18-year-old boys they work with. 

Be a part of this effort to equip young men and boys with the tools they need to become advocates for gender equality.