Be The Change

While protesters demand death penalty or chemical castration for the Delhi gang-rape case accused, Pune NGO addresses the root of the situation葉he behaviour of Indian men towards women葉hrough films and discussions

With the Delhi gang-rape case throwing light upon the lack of safety for women in India, citizens from all across were shaken out of their apathy and forced to take notice of the matter. This social context has been a major cause for the widespread protests in India, with requests for police, societal, and legal reforms. While some of the major demands of the protesters were for death penalty or chemical castration of the guilty, a Pune-based NGO has been working quietly to address the root of all evil: the behaviour or the attitude of Indian men towards women.

"We believe that not all men are a part of the problem, but all men can become a part of the solution," says Rujuta Teredesai, manager partnerships, Equal Community Foundation (ECF). Their approach is simple: in order achieve gender equality, men need to be engaged as a part of the solution. Set up in 2009, ECF is a human rights organisation that empowers men and boys with the opportunity to end violence and discrimination against women.

"The traditional approach to tackling this problem is to support women directly. But this approach does not tackle discrimination at its root and is alone not delivering the anticipated or required results in reducing inequality and violence. Women shoulder the burden of the empowerment process; whereas men, whose attitudes and behaviour sit at the root of the problem are absent from the solution," argues Teredesai.

ECF's research demonstrates that fewer than five per cent of NGOs seeking women's empowerment actively engage men as part of their programmes. They argue that unless the social sector embraces the field of working with men, and resources are mobilised to support women directly, women will continue to face violence and discrimination.

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