India Confronts the Problem of Violence Against Women

Fri, 01/04/2013
National Public Radio

During this National Public Radio broadcast, ICRW's Priya Nanda discusses the vulnerability of women and girls in public spaces in India and the root causes of their unequal status in society. Nanda was joined by three other guests on the "To the Point" show to discuss whether the December gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old New Delhi woman marks a turning point in what many say is the cultural, legal and political oppression of women and girls in India. 

The show begins at 8:00, and Nanda is introduced at 27:00.

ICRW's Priya Nanda Discusses New Delhi Gang Rape

Nanda is a guest on National Public Radio discussion about gang rape, murder of New Delhi woman
Fri, 01/11/2013

During this National Public Radio broadcast, ICRW's Priya Nanda discusses the vulnerability of women and girls in public spaces in India and the root causes of their unequal status in society. 

During this National Public Radio broadcast, ICRW's Priya Nanda discusses the vulnerability of women and girls in public spaces in India and the root causes of their unequal status in society. Nanda was joined by three other guests on the KCRW (89.9FM) "To the Point" show to discuss whether the December gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old New Delhi woman marks a turning point in what many say is the cultural, legal and political oppression of women and girls in India. 

Listen here. The show begins at 8:00, and Nanda is introduced at 27:00.

Child Marriage Policy Briefs Released in Nepal

ICRW policy and advocacy briefs help inform regional plan to end child marriage
Wed, 12/19/2012

ICRW policy and advocacy briefs that provide recommendations for preventing child marriage in Southern Asian countries were released in Nepal this week. The briefs will help policymakers develop a regional plan to end child marriage.

International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) policy and advocacy briefs that offer recommendations for preventing child marriage in nine Southern Asian countries was released this week in Kathmandu, Nepal during a regional consultative meeting of representatives from governments, nongovernmental organizations and others. 

ICRW Asia Regional Office Director Ravi Verma participated in the event, which was organized by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, an inter-governmental body created by the governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Participants used the gathering to review commitments and actions on behalf of girls and develop a regional action plan to end child marriage.

The ICRW policy and advocacy briefs provided a regional perspective on the issue of child marriage, highlighted common challenges to preventing the practice and offered evidence-based policy options. Produced in partnership with UNFPA and other organizations, the briefs provide important guidance on how to kick-start strategies for reducing early marriage in a manner tailored to the unique context and needs of each country.

“Our advocacy kit and policy briefs provided the larger evidence-based background for these countries to design a regional action plan to end child marriage,” Verma said. He added that event attendees also drew lessons from evaluations of child marriage prevention programs worldwide to inform the regional plan.

Read the policy briefs: Child Marriage in Southern Asia: Policy Options for Action

Help change the course for adolescent girls worldwide by joining ICRW’s Turning Point Campaign. 

Using Cricket to Talk About Gender Equality

Thu, 08/02/2012
The Huffington Post

ICRW's Madhumita Das writes about the Parivartan program in a blog for The Huffington Post. The blog is part of a series organized by Huffington Post and InterAction during the London Olympics, and includes blogs centered the connection between sports and gender, disabilities, peace building and other topics.

Boys’ Attitudes Shift about Manhood, Violence Against Women

Views about gender roles improve among young Indian athletes in ICRW program
Wed, 07/18/2012

Parivartan, a three-year ICRW program in Mumbai, India, used a sports setting to challenge boys’ notions about manhood and women’s roles in society. A final evaluation shows that many of the athletes’ attitudes, perceptions and behaviors about gender equity changed for the better.

New International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) findings show that Indian boys’ views about manhood and women’s roles in society became less patriarchal and more equitable after participating in an ICRW program that aimed to shift norms about gender equity. 

The program, called Parivartan, drew in boys from Mumbai through the popular sport of cricket and challenged them to question traditional notions of manhood present in many societies, including their own. Results from ICRW’s evaluation provided proof that sensitizing boys to gender issues can potentially change stereotypes they hold and their attitudes about violence against women. 

Unfolding over three years among boys ages 10 to 16, Parivartan capitalized on cricket coaches’ role in the young athletes’ lives to impart the program’s key messages. It required the coaches, too, to shift their own ideas about expectations of men and women in society. 

“Parivartan demonstrated that role models for youth – in this case, sports coaches – hold great potential as conduits for helping to address and change seemingly indomitable societal norms,” said Madhumita Das, an ICRW senior technical specialist who directed Parivartan. “What we don’t know yet is if the changes that took place among program participants will remain with them into adulthood.” 

Parivartan’s athletes hailed from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum: middle- and upper-class youth from Mumbai schools who had paid coaches and practiced their game in their cricketer’s white on a manicured field near a country club in downtown Mumbai; and boys from Mumbai’s slum community of Shivaji Nagar, who were coached by mentors close in age and practiced on dirt or asphalt, where they used recycled equipment and sometimes ran in sandals or barefoot. 

Modeled after the Coaching Boys into Men program by Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), ICRW sought to test whether the influence of coaches and the sports setting could serve as a venue – like home and school – to learn about gender roles and relationships. Experts aimed to document how attitudes, perceptions and behaviors did or did not change among athletes – as well as their coaches. 

“Coaches are more than just instructors of sports techniques. They’re also role models,” Das said. “So we wanted to value this unique relationship of coaches’ with their athletes, to have them channel positive messages to young men about manhood and respect for women.” 

The study sample consisted of 168 athletes in 26 Mumbai schools who were exposed to the Parivartan curriculum, and 141 athletes from 19 schools where the program was introduced later. This design provided a means of comparison, to gauge the effectiveness of the program. Similarly, 168 athletes from Shivaji Nagar took part in the program, while 133 athletes from another community served as the comparison group. 

Researchers sought to answer three questions: (1) What changes occurred in gender and violence-related attitudes, perceptions and behaviors among the Parivartan athletes? (2) What effects did participation in the training and the overall program have on the coaches? and (3) What changes did the wives, mothers or daughters of the coaches perceive as a result of the men’s participation in the program? 

In general, ICRW found that attitudes about gender equity and violence against women shifted for the better among the young cricketers. The coaches’ mindset and behavior also evolved positively. 

ICRW determined the changes by asking the athletes to respond to a series of statements centered on stereotypes around manhood and roles for girls and women. This included questions such as, “A wife should always obey her husband” and “Only men should work outside the home.” The participants were asked at the beginning and end of the Parivartan program to indicate on a 5-point scale whether or not they agreed. ICRW compared responses among athletes from the school setting, the slum community and the groups who did not receive the Parivartan curriculum.

Among ICRW’s findings was that most young cricketers supported a more traditional view of manhood when the program started – a view where boys are not expected to be faithful to girlfriends, where they must always act tough and where they believe they’ll lose respect if they talk about their problems. “This suggested that despite their young age, many boys had already been exposed to and internalized the idea that real men are tough, unfaithful and unemotional,” Das said. 

Those perceptions had changed for most by the end of the program. However, many participants said they still believed that only men can work outside of the home – one of the more deeply-engrained cultural expectations. 

When ICRW looked at changes across the three areas researchers studied – boys’ controlling behavior, manhood and masculinity and girls’ and women’s roles – it found that Parivartan participants’ attitudes about gender roles had changed significantly, compared to those who did not participate in the program. 

An important transformation took place in the Shivaji Nagar athletes’ opinions physical abuse of girls: they became less supportive of it. Such violence is not uncommon; many girls in India, particularly those from poor neighborhoods, are not valued much by their families or others in their community. Many don’t have the chance to attend school or have much say over the course of their lives. To that end, some men and boys see girls as disposable and to be controlled – sometimes, by using violence. In the Parivartan study, most young athletes agreed that a girl does not deserve to be hit if she doesn’t finish her homework, obey her elders or argues with her siblings. However, there was still somewhat strong agreement – specifically among the community athletes – that a girl deserves to be slapped or beaten when she doesn’t help with household chores. 

“Particularly in poor communities, girls are often seen as a big support to handle household chores and look after their younger siblings,” Das said. “More importance is placed on that role in the home, regardless of how young they are, than in getting an education.” 

It’s unclear whether the positive changes in attitudes and behavior that ICRW found will stick as the young men grow into adults. To guarantee such an outcome, ICRW recommends that Parivartan be institutionalized into the settings to which teenagers connect and learn, so that its messages are consistently reinforced. 

While the formal program in Mumbai is no longer, Parivartan is expanding its focus and working with a new group of youth in a rural area: Now, it will be Parivartan-Plus, and part of the U.K. Department for International Development’s STRIVE effort to address social inequities that continue to fuel the AIDS epidemic. The program will take place in rural Karnataka, in southern India, and along with addressing violence against women, it also will tackle sexuality and the links between alcohol and substance use and HIV. 

Gillian Gaynair is ICRW’s senior writer and editor.

Related Content:

Photo Slideshow: The Sport of Respect

Multilevel Perspectives on Female Sterilization in Low-Income Communities in Mumbai, India.

Brault, M. A., Schensul, S. L., Singh, R., Verma, R. K., & Jadhav, K. (2015) Multilevel Perspectives on Female Sterilization in Low-Income Communities in Mumbai, India. Qualitative Health Research

Surgical sterilization is the primary method of contraception among low-income women in India. This article, using qualitative analysis of key informant, in-depth interviews, and quantitative analyses, examines the antecedents, process, and outcomes of sterilization for women in a low-income area in Mumbai, India. Family planning policies, socioeconomic factors, and gender roles constrain women’s reproductive choices. Procedures for sterilization rarely follow protocol, particularly during pre-procedure counseling and consent. Women who choose sterilization often marry early, begin conceiving soon after marriage, and reach or exceed ideal family size early due to problems in accessing reversible contraceptives. Despite these constraints, this study indicates that from the perspective of women, the decision to undergo sterilization is empowering, as they have fulfilled their reproductive duties and can effectively exercise control over their fertility and sexuality. This empowerment results in little post-sterilization regret, improved emotional health, and improved sexual relationships following sterilization.

DOI: 10.1177/1049732315589744

Access Publication »

Peer reviewed articles may or may not be accessible to the public depending on the publication and its copyright rules. ICRW provides links to the articles, but cannot guarantee access to their full text. For questions, please contact info@icrw.org or (202) 797-0007.

Terms and Conditions »

Community Gender Norms Change as a Part of a Multilevel Approach to Sexual Health Among Married Women in Mumbai, India

Schensul, S. L., Singh, R., Schensul, J. J., Verma, R. K., Burleson, J. A., & Nastasi, B. K. (2015) Community Gender Norms Change as a Part of a Multilevel Approach to Sexual Health Among Married Women in Mumbai, India American Journal of Community Psychology, 1-12

Inequitable gender norms in societies and communities negatively contribute to women’s sexual and reproductive health. While the need for change in gender norms is well recognized, the task is highly challenging in terms of intervention design, implementation and assessment of impact. This paper describes a methodology for identification of gender norms, the design of community level intervention, community participation and the assessment of intervention impact in a low income, predominately Muslim community of 600,000 people in Mumbai, India. Formative research focused on in-depth interviews with women, men and couples yielding gender normative statements and assessment of community resources to facilitate change. A Gender Equity Scale (GES) based on this formative research was developed and administered annually for a three-year period to random, cross-sectional samples in the intervention and control communities, and to community based, non-governmental organizations (NGO) staff and Imams (religious leaders) in the intervention community. NGO staff disseminated gender oriented messages to their female constituency through their regular outreach activities and through special events and festivals in the community. Imams disseminated gender messages through lectures on social issues for men attending Friday prayers. The results showed that the NGO staff and Imams, assumed more gender equitable attitudes across time. The intervention was associated with a significant improvement in attitudes towards gender equity in the intervention relative to the control community. Men showed a dramatic change in more positive gender attitudes, while women lagged behind in their GES scores. The meaning of these results are explored and the implications assessed for the generalizability of the methodology for other countries, cultures and communities.

DOI: 10.1007/s10464-015-9731-1

Access Publication »

Peer reviewed articles may or may not be accessible to the public depending on the publication and its copyright rules. ICRW provides links to the articles, but cannot guarantee access to their full text. For questions, please contact info@icrw.org or (202) 797-0007.

Terms and Conditions »

Madhu Deshmukh

Madhu
Deshmukh
Chief Operating Officer, Asia Regional Office
ICRW
Bio: 

As Chief Operating Officer of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office, Madhu Deshmukh oversees day-to-day operations for the regional office, implements systems to ensure ARO’s growth, provides programmatic leadership and support, and ensures effective implementation of projects. She has more than 23 years of experience and has managed programs globally in over 40 countries in the areas of social development, gender, women's empowerment and public health.

Madhu’s background in leadership, strategy, project design and management, working with vulnerable population, and policy advocacy make her well qualified to lead operations for ICRW’s Asia Regional Office. What she enjoys most about working at ICRW is having the opportunity to explore and work on cutting edge issues related to gender, violence against women and girls, and empowerment of women and girls. Madhu is passionate about grounding her work in maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health and HIV, in a broader framework that takes into account gender disparities and women’s empowerment.

Madhu has extensive experience working at senior management level in various nongovernmental organizations, bilateral and multilateral donors, including: the Government of India, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS);

Prior to joining ICRW in 2014, Madhu was the president of Tenth Planet LLC where she provided advice on strategy and innovation around social development, gender and public health related issues to various organizations, some of which include: CARE USA; the United Nations Foundation; and Lebara Foundation UK. In previous roles at CARE and the United Nations Foundation, Madhu served as the director leading their global work on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), mobile health (mHealth) and gender. In 2012, she worked as a Global Director for HIV/AIDS for CARE, and in 2010, she worked as a Senior Advisor  – Maternal Health, Governance and Women’s Empowerment. Madhu was also the Chief of Party for CARE in 2011, for a project on maternal, child health and nutrition issues in the state of Bihar, India, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Follow her on Twitter at @MadhuDeshmukh or connect with her via email

Expertise: 

HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive and maternal health (SRMH), Policy analysis and Advocacy

Languages Spoken: 

English and Hindi

Education: 

Madhu holds a Master’s degree in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), India. 

Mixed Views in India on Whether to Criminalise Marital Rape

Channel News Asia

ICRW's research on the prevalence of intimate partner violence across India is featured in this Channel News Asia article on the government of India's decision not to criminalize marital rape.

ICRW's research on the prevalence of intimate partner violence across India is featured in this Channel News Asia article on the government of India's decision not to criminalize marital rape.

PRESS RELEASE: New Report Highlights Gaps in Quality of Female Sterilization Services in Bihar, India

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Given the increased demand for reproductive health services in India, more attention is needed to assess the quality of care for these services. To assess the current state of care and patient satisfaction, The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the Government of Bihar conducted research in Bihar, auditing 79 facilities (including district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals, primary health centers, and private hospitals), and conducting interviews with around 800 providers, female sterilization and IUD clients from 2013 to early to mid-2014.

Today, ICRW released a new report with findings from that assessment, which sheds light on the quality of these services, as well as patient satisfaction, finding that while there have been some improvementsto infrastructure, there is much more to be done in the provisioning of female sterilization services to ensure that clients are satisfied with the sanitary conditions, as well as privacy and dignity that they expect while receiving these services.

ICRW’s research found that the overall quality of care received by many women was substantially low, with a lack of a focus on women’s needs and their right to high-quality health services that fit their needs and lifestyle.

In only one in ten primary health centers were all women provided a bed post-surgery, leaving the vast majority of women who recently underwent sterilization procedures to recover on mattresses or thin cotton mats on the floor, a breeding ground for infection. In nearly one out of three facilities, hospital waste, including used syringes, cotton and bandages were found scattered around, further compounding the risk of infection for female patients.

“Safe, sanitary conditions are absolutely non-negotiable and can be achieved with very little or no heavy additional costs but will surely yield long-term dividends to establishing the credibility of these programs,” said Pranita Achyut, lead researcher on the report.

The findings highlight that very few private and public hospitals had all the drugs identified by the Government of India as necessary to have on hand while performing sterilization procedures; many women after the procedure were discharged without ensuring that they received check-ups or counselling and advice; the infrastructural facilities at the sub-divisional hospitals and primary health centres were very poor, including within the operation theatres themselves; and fewer than half of all the facilities surveyed had separate functional toilets for women.

“The evidence generated by our research reinforces the oft-repeated reality of poor quality health services for women who seek sterilization procedures,” said Dr. Ravi Verma, head of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office. “The plight of poor women denied of the dignity and respect they deserve, coupled with the high risk of exposure to infections and post-surgery complications, are clearly highlighted by our research. It is hard to overemphasize the clear, demonstrated need for women-oriented and sensitive family planning services.”

RECOMMENDATIONS: Based on our findings, ICRW puts forth a host of recommendations to improve the safety and sanitary state of health facilities so no woman’s life is at risk. These recommendations include designating safe, clean waiting and recovery areas for women; equipping facilities with necessary, sanitary equipment, drugs, and supplies to effectively perform sterilization and IUD procedures; ensuring health facilities have qualified health providers who ensure they respect the rights of women undergoing procedures; and educating women on their right to safe health care procedures.

Overall, our research indicates that while the government is taking many steps to improve provider and clinical quality, without addressing clients’ understanding and demand for quality, we will not be able to fully address the issue.

Pranita Achyut, lead researcher and Dr. Ravi Verma, head of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office are available for interviews and commentary.

Press Contacts:

Washington DC – Erin Kelly, ekelly@icrw.org, 011. 571.265.1110

New Delhi– Ruchika Kumar, rkumar@icrw.org, 91.11.46643333

# # #

Mission Statement: 

About ICRW: For nearly 40 years, ICRW has been the premier applied research institute focused on women and girls. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in South Asia and Africa, ICRW provides evidence-based research to inform programs and policies that help alleviate poverty, promote gender equality and protect the rights of women and girls. Learn more at www.icrw.org

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