Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA)
Context: With more than 325 million young people living in India between 10 and 24 years of age, it has become increasingly important to engage adolescents in sexual and reproductive health programming. Moreover, there are needs to develop and deliver services in Hindi, and to address the huge gender gap that exists between girls and boys in terms of their autonomy, access to information and resources, and empowerment to make informed decisions. Many adolescent girls in India are forced into early marriage with boys or men who they have never met or have had no influence in choosing—about half of India’s women marry before the legal minimum age of 18 years. Moreover, many girls are married when they hit puberty and begin having children when they have not reached womanhood themselves; about 14% of girls aged 15–19 in Uttar Pradesh have begun childbearing. In addition to cultural norms, many girls lack knowledge about reproductive health, they are badly placed to negotiate pregnancy and the post-natal period.
Organization: Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA) was established in 2000 in Delhi with a mission to advance women’s human rights, including reproductive rights, violence against women, and sexuality. Through grassroots leadership development, technical assistance, and advocacy and research, CREA works to move the needle for women in the global south, with a particular focus on India. To ensure that their training curricula and research results reach the largest audience, they publish materials in both English and Hindi, many of which are geared toward low-literacy audiences. Their training programs convene leaders from community organizations and NGOs (mostly from women’s organizations in rural North India, where indicators of human development and gender equality are low) to develop an understanding of a rights-based approach to women’s empowerment, including relevant legal and policy issues as well as strategies for advocacy and community engagement. CREA’s Count Me In initiative seeks to address violence and discrimination against females (including sex-selection) through community level awareness-raising, door-to-door campaigns, art and performance, and recently, sports, to change attitudes towards women and girls, and to challenge the acceptance of gender-based violence. The initiative includes grass roots programming to empower women and girls to assert their rights in key decision making areas such as education, marriage, and childbearing.
Current Grant: EMpower’s 4th grant to CREA enables girls and young women to acquire leadership, negotiation and communication skills and address gender issues in their communities. Some women will receive advanced skills training to improve their employability, with some receiving scholarship support for professional training and internships in selected careers.