According to the global gender gap report, 2016, India ranks 141 out of 142 nations in the world that are categorized as gender critical when it comes to survival and safety of girls and women as compared to boys and men. India is home to the largest number of adolescents in the world ~243 million. 57% of Indian adolescent males ages 15-19 justify violence against women, according to UNICEF’s Global Report Card on Adolescents (2013). According to the National Crime Records Bureau report of India 2015-16, perpetration of violence against females by males is rising across India. In 2016, the number of rape cases dipped nationwide, but in Pune and Mumbai crimes against girls and women increased by 4.4%. Factors associated with increasing gender-based violence (GBV) include gender norms allowing male control over female behavior, acceptance of violence as a way to resolve conflict, the notion of masculinity linked to dominance, honor and aggression; rigid gender roles, association with peers who condone violence, male control of wealth and decision-making in the family, witnessing marital violence as a child, and alcohol use. One key issue is a lack of safe spaces in communities for young people to address concerns and access evidence-based, non-discriminatory, comprehensive information that encourages boys to question their privilege and gender roles, and to be supported to act in ways that respect women and girls’ rights, including to freedom from violence and bodily autonomy. In addition, not many civil society organizations work with boys and men to end violence against women; ECF’s survey in 2015 found that fewer than 5% of organizations working to end violence against women engage men.
ECF was founded in Pune, India in 2009, by Will Muir and Rujuta Teredesai. Trained as a journalist, with over 10 years working in the not-for profit space, Rujuta co-founded ECF because she believes in engaging boys and men as a part of the solution to end gender based violence in India. Through 12 years of experience in social and environmental management consulting firms, including in Pune and by seeing the situation faced by women and girls in India, Will decided to co-found ECF. ECF aims to reduce violence and discrimination against girls and women by engaging boys and men, through training and mentor support, to serve as role models in their community, family and to successive generations of men by reducing their own violent behavior, and advocating to their peers an end to violence and discrimination against girls. ECF has a strong, structured program model that ensures males take personal and collective action with other males they trust, supporting each other within the community to reduce violence and discrimination against women. ECF’s primary program is the Action to Equality Program intended to systematically change the way a community raises boys aged 14-17, working with young men and the key influences on them—male peer groups, male leaders, parents, teachers and health workers. Project Raise builds the capacity of 100 organizations across India over 5 years to start engaging boys and men to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. Their Research and Advocacy Program addresses the lack of research and evidence on this topic. ECF started a 3 year study in 2015 with experts, practitioners across India to identify best practices to scale the approach of working with men, based on which they have decided to: 1) Identify key stakeholders needed; 2) Promote collaboration between organizations, government departments and community based structures having similar goals; and 3) Increase support of funders, corporates and policy makers towards these ends. Their long term goal is to develop thought leadership in this nascent space to innovate strategies to work with men in different communities and settings in India to promote and practice gender equality.
EMpower’s 4th grant to ECF will enable 1,100 boys to become active role models in 20 slum communities, practicing and promoting gender equality and advocating through social actions.