Equal Community Foundation (ECF) • India
“The sessions we have received on gender equality and its importance really got me thinking. They made me realize that our society has got it all wrong. We do not give girls and women what they have a right to have – education, good health and opportunities to wear what they want, go where they want to and do what they want, without imposing restrictions on them based on the fact that they are girls or women.”
-16 year old boy and ECF participant, Mehboob
In 2019, there were 230 million boys under the age of 18 in India. Research showed that 116 million of these boys would grow up to be physically violent and 56 million to be sexually violent. ECF was established in 2009 with a mission to address this national epidemic and raise every boy in India to be gender equitable. They believe that if boys and men are given the tools, knowledge and space to learn and practice respectful positive behaviors, they can become powerful allies in the fight for gender equality.
“These boys are not born violent or discriminatory. If they’re given the opportunity to do something different, they will,” explains ECF Co-Founder Rujuta Teredesai
ECF has three well-established, interconnected programs that work together to achieve their mission:
- Action for Equality:At the core of ECF is Action for Equality, a community based behavior change program designed to provide young boys with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to challenge existing gender norms and take both personal and collaborative action to end violence and discrimination against women and girls in their communities. The program runs for 60 weeks at a time and includes three progressive stages: foundation, action and leadership. Each year this program reaches an average of 600 adolescent boys from low-income communities. Mentorship is a key aspect of this program and provides the young boys with a new type of role model and an example of positive, non-violent masculinity that is often missing in their marginalized communities.
- Project Raise: Having developed and streamlined their successful Action for Equality program, ECF established Project Raise in order to share their model and approach with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) across India. This program is successfully igniting a collaborative, national movement to raise gender equitable boys.
- Research and Development: In order to achieve widespread adoption of their approach, ECF knew that they must acquire formal and compelling research highlighting the effectiveness of engaging boys in the fight for gender equality. Surprisingly, there was lack of relevant studies and research in India on this topic, so ECF established a program to fill this gap, document their success, and convince others to adopt a more inclusive approach.
WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP
ECF became a partner of GoPhil in March 2018 after being highly recommended by several other organizations. The GoPhil community has contributed to the ECF programs in several key ways by providing:
- Support for Project Raise, allowing ECF to scale their work and share their approach with more CSOs, mobilizing a strong national effort to raise gender equitable boys;
- Introductions to other GoPhil partners in India to help grow their Project Raise network and spread the word about their approach.
WHAT MAKES ECF UNIQUE?
ECF’s inclusion of boys and men as part of the solution is surprisingly uncommon. At the start of Project Raise, ECF found that fewer than 5% of organisations in India working on gender equity had strategy or programs focused specifically on educating or engaging boys.
“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 works to address this gap not only within their own communities, but across the entire country. Their collaborative programs and emphasis on sharing with other CSOs is a unique approach in the NGO-world, where too often scarce resources mean that organizations feel in competition with each other or territorial about their work. ECF wholeheartedly shares their findings, resources, trainings, and even funding sources, because they know that collaboration is the best way to scale up their work and to enact sustainable, widespread change.
LATEST NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE
Insight to GoPhil’s Key Sectors: Why Human Rights?
In our recent blog posts, we have been taking an indepth look at GoPhil's key sectors and discussing their importance to our community, their impact on global equity, and how our partners’
Insight to GoPhil’s Key Sectors: Why Education?
As you might have learned from our previous GoPhil’s key sectors blog post on health care, or observed by going through our site, we focus on 3 key sectors of development: health, human rights, and
Partner Highlights: Changemakers fighting for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month both take place in March - giving us the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in the fight for gender equality, while also acknowledging