Last year, as we started to implement our new strategy for 2016-20 “Demanding Rights and Creating Opportunities”, we decided to focus even more on tackling some of the tough issues of inequalities, especially in the area of gender justice. Progress in this important goal has been very uneven during the last 70 years and we felt that a new approach –of engaging directly with the public to change social norms--was needed to tackle some of the “sticky” issues. While there has been some progress in health and education, and even in reducing violence against women, there has been little or no progress in measures of women’s “empowerment” such as representation in national or state level politics, in voice and leadership in the corporate sector, or in achievement of property rights. And in some cases—such as the sharp drop in labor market participation of women in the last decade—we seem to be seeing reversals in hard won gains.
Many of these problems are difficult to tackle through the usual approach of adopting progressive laws, policies and programs alone, because social norms are strong and society does not value women and girls as much as it values men and boys. We—together with our partners and in alliance with many others working in this field—have decided to challenge and change that by engaging much more directly and systematically with the public, and specially with the youth.
We launched our exciting new campaign ‘Bano Nayi Soch: Buno Hinsa Mukt Rishtey (Be a New Thought: Weave Violence Free Lives)’ in November in Patna. This campaign aims to reduce the acceptability of domestic violence as a norm and is being implemented in five focus states of India--Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
Since cinema is such an important influencer of social norms, we also partnered with the Mumbai Film Festival and instituted an award to recognise and encourage gender-equal cinema in India. The film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ received the first Oxfam India award but was initially refused certification for being “too women-centric”. We stood with the filmmakers and celebrated our win against the negative social norms. We also worked with Global Citizen as their gender partner for the Coldplay concert in Mumbai in November, during which a number of celebrities delivered strong and consistent messaging on gender equality to a young and 80,000-strong audience of music lovers. We also reached out to participants in the Mumbai and Bengaluru Trailwalkers and urged them to walk for gender equality.Annual Report 2016-2017