Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence
A Growing Movement of Male Youth in Combating Gender Based Violence and Other Women’s Rights Issues
Masculine perceptions show traditional stereotyped mindsets, which shape the identity and behaviour of young boys and men, thereby perpetuating gender inequalities rather than breaking patriarchal norms. The socialization process plays an important role in influencing and forming behaviour patterns. The major identities formed during adolescence lead to a clear demarcation in the mindset among boys and girls which is further solidified by the prevailing societal norms, perpetuating gender based violence directly or indirectly. ‘Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence’ initiated by the Independent Commission for People’s Rights and Development (ICPRD) is path-breaking, innovative and unique as it successfully engages young men, the possible perpetrators of tomorrow, and makes them partners/allies in combating Gender Based Violence– a project of its kind in the world at the grassroots/policy levels.
ICPRD has in the last ten years worked in different parts of India targeting both men and women through NGOs and intermediaries to various aspects of development particularly combating trafficking of women / children, community mobilization, youth awareness, policy advocacy and capacity building.
The ICPRD project ‘Youth Forums Against Gender Based Violence’ (YFAGBV) was initiated in June 2006 as a new grassroots mechanism to create sustainable change agents at the local village level for combating Gender Based Violence (GBV) in 4 districts of Karnataka and later, replicating the model in 2 districts of Rajasthan in February 2007, with a good measure of effectiveness, systematically addressing the issue. This Phase II project was the result of ICPRD’s learning experience in Phase I of the ICPRD project ‘Engaging Men as Partners in Reducing Gender Based Violence’, in Karnataka and Rajasthan. During its interaction with the community through training, mass campaigns, street theater and other activities, ICPRD found that not only the youth but other stakeholders such as women SHGs, teachers, NYK youth club members, Church groups, teachers, PRI members evinced interest to engage in ICPRD activities targeting GBV.
The young men inducted into YFAGBVs are in-school and out-of-school adolescent boys (14-17 years) and young men (18-24 years). Women SHGs are also part of YFAGBVs.
In Phase I of the project, ICPRD was successful in breaking new ground reaching out to a total of 9,145 stakeholders (direct and indirect), taking the overall tally (Phases I and II) to 35,598 stakeholders.
The total number of villages covered under the project in both Karnataka and Rajasthan is 164. 142 mass campaigns have been conducted reaching 21,135 stakeholders. Within 12 months, the project on YFAGBV has reached around 26,453 stakeholders, both direct and indirect in the project areas of Karnataka and Rajasthan. Alongwith women’s groups in the area, sustainable village level platform are beginning to evolve. 136 Youth Forums have been formed and trained with around 2,116 young men and women. 60 Self Help Groups have been trained with around 1,044 women members.
In two years of the project ‘Engaging Men as Partners in Combating Gender Based Violence’ (Phases I and II), around 400 activities have been conducted to achieve project objectives (Baseline Survey, Mass Campaigns, TOTs, IECs, YFAGBV formation and training, SHG members’ training, Review and Dissemination workshops, etc.).