There are 230 million boys under the age of 18 in India. Based on current trends, it is estimated that 116 million of these boys will grow up to be physically violent and 56 million to be sexually violent.
Equal Community Foundation (ECF), a GoPhilanthropic partner program, was established with a mission to address this epidemic and raise every boy in India to be gender equitable. They believe that boys and men can be powerful allies in the fight for gender equality, if they are given the opportunity, tools, knowledge and space to learn and practice positive behaviors. Therefore, ECF enthusiastically includes boys and men as part of the solution to this national issue.
“A lot of work is happening across India and the world that is based on supporting women and fighting discrimination against them. That work is absolutely important. But what is happening is that we are not investing in the root cause behind this discrimination. And one of the root causes is the attitude of many men and boys towards women. This is the gap that we are trying to fill,” explains ECF Co-Founder Rujuta Teredesai.
ECF as one single organization knew that they could not fill this gap working in isolation, so they set out to scale up their model and mobilize a coordinated, national response. In talking to other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), ECF learned that there were several barriers preventing others from adopting an approach that included boys and men, including: limited technical knowledge about the approach of engaging boys; a lack of common measurement indicators and tools; a lack of access to large-scale evidence; and lack of funding. ECF established “Project Raise” to build the capacity of CSOs to collectively tackle these barriers and generate far-reaching change. This project embodies GoPhil’s philosophy of learning, sharing, networking and mentoring, and we are so proud to be supporting ECF in this effort.
So far, Project Raise has accomplished the following major strides:
- 199 Civil Society Organizations have joined as members of Project Raise;
- 9684 boys have participated in gender equity programs;
- 12 organizations have implemented ECF’s approach of raising gender equitable boys.
Additionally, hearing the individual case studies from the partner programs proves that boys and men are already becoming strong advocates for gender equality in their own families and communities.
Shivraj, age 21, (pictured) participated in the ECF Project Raise program and later went on to become an Equality Leader in his community. He shares how the program personally impacted him:
“When I teased women, I didn’t realise it was sexual harassment. For us, it was simply ‘fun’. When my mentor, Ramesh sir, told us how it affects women, I started regretting my behaviour. When I teased girls, they would complain to their parents and instead of scolding us, their parents discontinued their education and made them sit at home. While I went to school and college, girls my age were denied their right to education. I felt horrible that they had to leave school because of us sexually harassing them…
What really brought me to my senses was when Ramesh sir asked what I would do if someone teased my sister. Immediately, I answered, ‘I’ll take some boys along and beat up that boy.’ That would mean: when I teased a girl, her brother would be right to hit me. Ramesh sir asked, ‘Is this cycle of violence okay with you?’ To me, it wasn’t. That is when I decided to change my behaviour.”
In March 2019, GoPhilanthropic Travel and a group of travelers visited ECF to hear about this project directly from boys who participated in the gender equity program. After the visit, Jeanie, a GoPhil volunteer and traveler (pictured below), reflected on the experience:
“[The boys] gave very thoughtful answers to our questions, and we knew it was genuine, not programmed. They were proud of becoming more aware of unequal gender norms and making small changes to their previous thinking, and they were learning to intervene with others who still hold old beliefs, even with their own parents. One older boy, Addush, indicated that he noticed that only his father worked outside the home, and encouraged mom and dad to rethink this. Now, mom works outside the home, helping to support the family, and the boy says he helps in the house with chores so mom can continue to work. He says even his father tries to help a little.”
In November 2018, we launched a ‘Giving Tuesday’ campaign in support of ECF’s Project Raise. The response from you, our community of supporters, was extremely heartening.
Together we raised an additional $2,384 to keep this project going and reach even more CSOs! We are honored to partner with ECF and Project Raise, for their equitable, collaborative and grassroots approach to these issues reflects our own values, inspires us and instills hope for future generations.
Please join in continuing to support ECF’s powerful efforts
to raise gender equitable boys in India.
“These boys are not born violent or discriminatory.
If they’re given the opportunity to do something different, they will.”
• Equal Community Foundation Co-Founder, Rujuta Teredesai •