Women and Girls Empowered to Challenge Gender-Based Violence

4 March 2024

 “Bad people are those people in the village who stop us girls from coming to the Sahasi Girls Program by spreading all kinds of rumors. Through these programs we are learning about the importance of education, about ourselves and our rights. They [“bad people”] are wary of us, because if we become aware of our rights then we will demand for them and that is something that are society doesn’t want.” __Participant, Sahasi Girls Program

Sahas Foundation, New Delhi, India, is a youth led organization founded in the year 2016 with a vision to create a world that is free from gender-based violence. Sahas joined URI as a Cooperation Circle in 2018 and believes that interfaith bridge-building is crucial in expanding gender awareness education throughout India.

Sahas works with adolescents and young people on knowledge building around the issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive health thereby building their capacity to understand and challenge gender-based violence. We co-create safe spaces where adolescents share and ask questions about things that matter in their lives. Sahas aims to empower younger generations to become citizens who make informed life choices and can say “no” to any or all forms of violence. Sahas works with teachers, parents, police, women and social activists to build a gender sensitive ecosystem.

Through ongoing programs, Sahas encourages teachers to understand gender and sexuality issues in their community and to recognize the need of gender and sexuality education for adolescents to create gender inclusive classrooms.

Purvi, co-founder, Sahas, explains that “in English Sahas means courage, courage that comes with unbiased knowledge, to make well-informed decisions, to question, and courage to say no to gender-based violence. “

The critical need for the Sahas Foundation to support women and girls to say no to gender based violence is reflected by participants.

“On my way to college, many a times boys and men make lewd comments, they keep staring at me, making me uncomfortable. One day a boy was constantly harassing me and when I fought back, he slapped me. When I reached home, I started crying profusely. My father on hearing this yelled at me and immediately asked me to stop going to college. Whenever I see news of rape, even teasing, I get scared and feel that if this happens to me what I will do.”’ –Shared by the participant of #stopstaring campaign

“My daughter was killed by her husband, he strangled her. She didn’t want to go; I could have stopped her. She had dreams! We are fighting a court case against her husband. I have to run here and there. I try to stay positive, but she won’t come back!” __Shared by a participant from a session with women on challenging gender-based violence.

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