Action for Equality graduates raise alarm on declining sex ratio in slums across Pune and Mumbai


On 22nd May, we completed our first cycle of the formal Action for Equality pilot in 20 branches across Pune and Mumbai. The pilot batch was launched in January. Since the launch of the pilot, evidence is positive with women reporting a reduction in violence from our graduates. The last four months were extremely challenging, yet rewarding for the team.

At the end of the cycle, we organise Action Events. Action Events are designed to facilitate AFE graduates taking personal and collective action to end violence against women.  This graduation, men volunteered to provide education to women on the declining sex ratio highlighted by the recent census from the government of India.

The 2011 Indian Census reveals that the Maharashtra’s proportion of females under the age of 6 years is in rapid decline. There are now 883 girls aged 0-6 years for every 1000 boys, the lowest ratio since Indian independence, and a significant decline from 1991’s figure of 946.

This points to a continued preference for male children and an increase in violence against females, including sex selective foeticide and infanticide.

Research demonstrates that the process of engaging men is an essential element of any programme to address the issue. Husbands are key decision makers (alongside mothers-in-law) in the family planning process, and their positive engagement in tackling the declining sex ratio is essential. Working with men for women’s empowerment complements the many existing programmes that work with women.

We mobilised 152 advocates from our 20 branches to provide practical information to women on the implications of a declining sex ratio, and raise awareness of the issue amongst their male peers. From 9-12 May, AFE advocates delivered the message through street plays, lectures and community media during 90 minute long structured events.

Activities like these are carefully designed to empower women to tackle the issue themselves, with the support of other men in the community. 330 women and 25 men benefited from these events.

This was made possible only because of our hardworking mentors and the continued support of our partner organizations: Suzlon Foundation, Deep Griha Society, Swadhar, and Akanksha. Thank you!

The cycle was complete with 152 men graduating from the programme. As per our research each man impacts the life of three women in his home and community. As a result, a conservative estimate of 450 women will benefit. However we are not satisfied. We recognise the need to engage more men and work with them on an on-going basis. These are just our first few steps.