Men Against Violence & Abuse (MAVA) is India's first voluntary organization engaging Boys and Men to stop and prevent gender-based violence against women and advocate for a gender-equal society. At Project Umang (meaning Aspiration), MAVA is sensitizing and mentoring 45 adolescent boys, from 3 disadvantaged communities of Mumbai, who are aspiring for a society where girls / women are not subjected to any kind of violence or where girls / women do not live in fear of violence.
Gender-based violence against girls /women is critical social issue in India. Effort to tackle it has been concentrated on empowering women. Boys & Men are insulated from process of transformation. Majority of growing-up boys, esp. from disadvantaged communities are deprived of any healthy conversation on relationships and sexual health. Pornographic literature becomes the only source through which ideas about being a Man and a Woman are reinforced, resulting in possible violence on girls/women
Through this Project, first of its kind in India, adolescent boys from 3 communities are provided safe, non-threatening platform to understand and redefine Masculinity. Through weekly interactive sessions & personal dialogue with select 45 boys, they are encouraged to comfortably talk about problems that give rise to violent behaviour by Men in society. Using out-of-the-box methods like storytelling and games, boys are enabled to promote gender-sensitive behaviour through self & talk to peers
The so-far conducted weekly interactive sessions and stimulating discussions with the 45 boys is showing promising response. There are many boys whose traditional outlook towards girls/ women has changed and they are voicing their feelings against any discrimination meted out to girls/ women in their lives. Continued work with them, building their capacities to reach out to peers in their communities, will significantly prevent gender-based violence on girls, paving way for healthy communities.