The DEVELOP project (Adolescents gender survey, responsible couples evaluation and capacity building project in India)
In India, gender equality is a key area for national development.
Gender inequality particularly affects the health and wellbeing of girls and women – especially in deprived communities. Such inequality can influence the ability of women and girls to make household decisions and to access education and healthcare.
Addressing these problems is a key aim of regional and national agencies in India. In the Maharashtra state, the Halo Medical Foundation (HMF) has been leading community development work to promote equitable gender relationships among married couples; covering 40 villages through support of the international aid agency SWISSAID.
The ‘Responsible Couples’ project is a community-based intervention that tackles gender inequality and domestic discord and violence. The project works intensively with married couples to resolve their problems.
DEVELOP Phase 1 (2018 to 2019)
The successful first phase of the DEVELOP project provided vital evidence to support HMF’s gender equality work. The four key strands of work areas included
- a questionnaire survey on gender equality with over 1,000 adolescents from rural areas of Maharashtra
- an evaluation of the ‘Responsible Couples Project’ to assess impact of the current intervention model;
- research capacity building of NGO staff;
- establishing an India-wide advisory group on gender equality research.
Data gathered on adolescent gender equality attitudes and behaviour will inform HMF’s future work to develop interventions that address gender equality among young people in Maharashtra state.
The project delivered service evaluation data on service providers’ perspectives to assist the HMF in expanding their work on gender equality. Specifically in relation to village-level gender equality groups – known as NIRDHAR GAT – developed in rural areas of the state.
The research capacity building element of this project has also strengthened the HMFs research team and will assist in future service evaluation.
DEVELOP Phase 2 (2019 to 2020, ongoing)
Findings from this phase will inform gender equality work in India, generating evidence on this important area for use nationally and internationally, with interventions designed to promote gender equality and reduce gender-based discrimination.
Conducting qualitative interviews with people who have used services provided by the local NIRDHAR GAT and HMF’s referral centre, we will explore
- how service users perceive the support they received
- how they understand the personal- and family-level changes that occurred following their participation in the project
- what additional help they require now and in the future
- opportunities to develop a similar project elsewhere in the country.
Secondly, in conjunction with HMF and SWISSAID, we have identified a team of local experts to develop a training manual on gender equality. This will be used to formulate a uniform intervention strategy for projects funded by the SWISSAID. The material will be developed in Marathi language and consider our target population, local culture and resources to engage adolescents as well as adults in gender equality related development work.
DEVELOP research work is led by Professor Mark Hayter (Primary Investigator) and Dr Anand Ahankari (Lead Co-investigator and Project Manager) at the University of Hull. The project received support from additional members from UK and India:
- Funding support: HMF’s gender equality work implemented in Maharashtra state of India receives a dedicated financial support from the SWISSAID, Switzerland, and the project is monitored by SWISSAID’s India liaison office.
- Phases 1 and 2 of the DEVELOP project are supported by the University of Hull, UK through the Global Challenges Research Fund scheme.